illustration ofthat renaissance of Irish drama and the Irish theatre that has recently been refreshing hearts and minds this side of Fishguard.‘

Scottish critics and more importantly. audiences will have a chance to decide for themselves this month, when Frank Pig Says Hello begins a five—night run in Mayfest. The play tells the story of Francis Brady. a disturbed (to put it mildly) boy in a small border town in Ireland whose comic-book fantasy-life turns to dark reality as he grows older. As always with Co-Motion, a stark expressionist set is used to great effect. Indeed this trait may well be the reason for McCabe's involvement. ‘The first time I saw a Co-Motion Theatre Company production,‘ he has said. ‘I was struck not only by their inventive use of altar boy slippers, but by their extraordinary versatility and imaginative use of minimal props and a very basic set. I have always been interested in the latter since the night I emerged from an Abbey Theatre performance and realised that I‘d just spent over two hours being flabbergasted by the most magnificently sumptuous and realistic lawn I‘d ever seen and, in the process. had omitted to take much notice of the actors.‘ It‘s unlikely that the same will happen with this production; it features a cast of only two David Gorry (as Frank) and Sean Rocks as. in the author‘s words, ‘a walking village. pop. 119‘.

Two other Irish companies will also be bringing productions to Mayfest. Pigsback Theatre. also from Dublin, follows its success at the recent Irish Theatre Festival with The Ash Fire, a

Pigsback in The Ash Fire new, highly controversial play by Gavin Kostick, and Belfast‘s Charabanc Theatre Company presents Lorca's The House of Bermuda Alba.

The Ash Fire is based on Kostick's grandparent’s actual experiences in coming to Ireland. Three Jewish brothers. Nat, Abe and Rube Katzmeir. are fleeing Eastern Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. heading for the New World. Jumping ship in the dead of night to avoid the immigration authorities at Ellis Island, they find themselves, not in New York, but in Cobh Harbour. The Ash Fire tells the story oftheir struggle to find a new life in a country struggling to find its own identity.

Charabanc Theatre Company are celebrating ten years of existence this month with a new adaptation of The House of Bernarda Alba. written and directed by Lynn Parker. Dramatically reset in the Irish midlands. this classic play takes on new dimensions and is the perfect vehicle for its all-female cast. Charabanc's manifesto expresses the wish to create interesting roles and opportunities for women and, in this production, the female characters are not just girlfriends or mothers of the protagonist. but vibrant and interesting people in their own right. This is the first time the production will be performed outside Ireland.

Frank Pig Says Hello, Tue 18—Sat 22 May. RSAMD. Glasgow

The Ash Fire. Tue ll—Sar I 5 May. Arches Theatre. Glasgow.

The House of Bernarda Alba Mon IO-Fri 14 May. Mitchell Theatre. Glasgow

Little at large

Mark little isn’t afraid to admit that his audiences still comprise a lot of people curious to discover whatever happened to Joe Mangel. Little’s TV role as the Neighbours slob with a heart of gold is set to haunt him for a while yet, despite the fact that the character left the series three years ago in Australia and six months in the tardy UK.

Mangel fans turning up to catch Little’s act expecting it to reprise Joe’s lovable vulgarity will be surprised although not disappointed by Conquistador ’94, a semi- improvised mixture of political allegory, surrealism and skewed observational comedy that was the most original stand-up performance of the Edinburgh Fringe last summer.

lle’s touring the show around the UK being ‘reluctant to bury it’ but it’s developed in the interim. ‘lt’s similar in format,’ he says, ‘in having that pseudo-Dada Australian deconstructionist stuff, but within that, the material will change because I like to keep it up to date. Just as I started that show we were seeing the fall of Communism, and now we’re seeing the decline and fall of capitalism, and the decay of establishment society, blaming us youngsters for all the problems.’

If that sounds like an Antipodean Ben Elton attempting to set the world to rights with a bunch of dogma and a couple of one-liners, then be


Stand-up Aussie soap star Mark little

reassured. little is a far more engaging performer, who uses his personality and his eccentric way of viewing society’s imperfections to make pertinent observations that don’t sacrifice the laughter.

Since Edinburgh he’s settled in Britain living ‘out in the bush’ in North Yorkshire. He felt slightly isolated in Australia, feeling Europe is more at the centre of things, offering a better perspective for a performer. He’ll be returning to our small screens imminently, with a sitcom for Granada in the pipeline. ‘We’ve just got the go- ahead for it,’ he says. ‘lt’s about a couple of Aussies in London. Now all we’ve got to do is find another Aussie.’

Conquistador ’94 is at The Ferry on Tuesday 18 May.

mamm- Lift off

‘It’s a good festival show,’ says director Peter Brooks about L’Ascensore (The Lift) which has already enjoyed dates in France and Italy and is booked into a festival circuit that will take it to Hong Kong and Singapore. ‘The way that a festival Is programmed is like a balanced meal. The Lift isn’t a main course, but it’s a very nice starter.’

Lasting less than an hour, L’Ascensore certainly gives you the chance to serve yourself more than a single Mayfest helping in one evening, although Brooks emphasises that despite its curiosity value, it’s a show that actually delivers. Performed to an audience of 35, the play takes place in a lift where a Mafia hitman is betrayed and stabbed. As he writhes in pain, the lift moves from floor to floor, the doors opening to reveal an increasingly surreal series of scenes in the corridor beyond.

‘I wanted to do something that was luscious and visually rich,’ says Brooks about his personal homage to the gangster movie, ’butl couldn’t afford to fill a whole stage. So I thought if I restrict the arc to a very narrow corridor, I can throw all my money at that little bit and make it look perfect. It’s very beautiful and it’s also very exciting and in a way quite moving. From our point of view it

Going up: l’Ascensore

was quite ironic, but the Italians, for instance, found it extremely moving. I’ve done a lot of experimentation and I feel that this is something that draws on the experiments I’ve made, but it’s not in itself experimental. It’s a deeply deconstructed piece of work; the linearity is very disrupted and yet audiences feel they understand it completely. It’s a very accessible

show and very popular, but it’s not conventional.’ (Mark Fisher) L’Ascensore, Drama Centre at the Bamshorn, Wed 19-Sat 22 May.

The list 7 20 Ma) I‘M} 17