unawar- That’s Her Again
Thats Dorothy Paul again
it‘s not hard to imagine Dorothy Paul, age 5. entertaining the relatives in the front room. There‘s no telling whether she did or not. but she certainly takes to the stage in this second of her one- woman shows with the unabashed glee of a toddler in front of her grandparents. delighting at being the centre of attention. thrilled at being able to perform. Wide-eyed and all smiles. she wants everyone from the front stalls to the upper balcony to be her friend, endearing herself effortlessly. with the good manners to apologise before she swears and the good sense to swear anyway.
Brasher and more conﬁdent than her last show See That's Her (certainly as i saw it early in its run). That's Her Again follows a similar pattern of chatty reminiscence and comic character portraits interspersed with musical standards. There‘s a typically Glaswegian hard edge to the material that discounts any charge of nostalgic wallowing and surprisingly wins instant favour with a normally restrained and more polite Edinburgh Royal Lyceum audience.
And well it might. because Thais Her Again is a marvellous show. superbly sustained over two-and-a-half hours (how many younger comics could come up with such a wealth of new material?) and expertly executed. Paul is an alert and responsive performer — she pays special thanks to the woman who‘s just spent the second half in hysterics — playing a succession of fully-formed characters. from Miss Picken the Primary 4 Schoolteacher to Duggie and Shuggie the cowboy interior decorators. with a mixture of affection and merciless observational talent.
if she can drum up this much enthusiasm in Edinburgh. she’ll be burning down the house by the time she gets back to the Pavilion. (Mark Fisher) That's Her Again. seen at Royal Lyceum. Edinburgh, on tour.
Alan Morrison gets punch drunk over Buchanan.
Strange coincidence: Tom McGrath's play on the life of former world lightweight champion Ken Buchanan has its premiere on the same night that Lennox Lewis successfully defends his WBC heavyweight title. Twenty years from now. will theatre audiences be reliving this moment of glory in a dramatisation of Lewis's career? I doubt it. Frank Bruno may make a great pantomime dame. but Edinburgh’s Ken Buchanan has more credibility as the stage manifestation of the rise and fall of Sporting Man.
As drawn by McGrath, Buchanan the man is a clear example of that peculiarly Scottish trait whereby individual determination leads to success against the odds, which in turn becomes the ﬂaw that causes downfall. Buchanan the play is a magniﬁcent piece of work, a ﬂowing, accessible narrative that is less about boxing than the country's need for a hero and the individual’s need for the country’s recognition.
Performed in the round. Buchanan becomes an instantly engaging piece of
oral theatre. drawing the audience in with its familiar references and recognisible characters. The acting could not be bettered: Everyman narrator Michael Nardone again shows the impeccable comic timing that distinguished his Figaro at the Royal Lyceum last year. while Ann Louise Ross and Ronnie Letham (as the parents) create an ambitious but always loving context in which Ken's talents are nurtured. In the title role. Paul Samson shows remarkable range, with all the feistiness, humour and physical stamina of the man he is portraying.
McGrath's Buchanan is one step removed from real life: ﬁght scenes and key events in his career are presented as journalistic reports. so flesh and blood is able to enter the realm of myth via newspaper print and sta gecraft. The play celebrates without er.ogising; it is the perfect combination of subject matter, presentation and performance. Twenty years from now, they won’t have time for The Lennox Lewis Story - they’ll still be putting on Buchanan. Buchanan. Pavilion Theatre. Glasgow. until Sat 22 May; Traverse Theatre. Edinburgh, Tue 25 May—Sun 6 June.
mm:- THE ASH runs
Seen at the Arches Theatre, Glasgow. At Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 22 May.
There’s something of the Arthur Miller In this new play perfonned by Dublin’s Pigsback Theatre Company. it’s in the social observation, the way that one crucial event throws the qualities and faults of the various characters Into perspective, and the way that the same domestic Interior is sufficient to cope with the themes and plots of the whole piece. In this, Gavin liostlck’s script is rather old-fashioned, but none the worse for being so, for while it has minor structural weaknesses that an Arthur Miller would have put right, it succeeds in bringing to life a set of memorable characters in what is, as far as I am aware, a previously unexplored dramatic situation.
The Ash Fire is a drama of culture clash. A iamin of Jews fleeing persecution in Europe in 1935 ends up In Ireland and finds itself absorbing, adapting or resisting the traditions of its new home. The Jewish religion is thrown into sharp relief as the older brother and his wife cling on to their sense oi identity, while the two younger brothers attempt to shrug off their cultural roots. llry Irish humour meets even drier Jewish humour as two orthodox societies accommodate each other’s ways, fall in love despite themselves and try to make sense oi change.
Jim Cuileton directs with clarity a production that Is neither spectacular nor showy, but that has its own well- considered riches, producing a very satisfying evening in the theatre. (MF)
Seen at Arches Theatre, Glasgow. On Tour. In an impressive author’s note on the back of the programme, lloy MacGregor describes what drove him to write this play: mug shots of wanted lied Anny Faction terrorists, the arrest of RAF members hiding out in East Germany after the wall came down, and Schopenhauer’s remark that ‘the living stand at the head oi history. . . we are always trying to march away from the past, towards tomorrow’. liniortunateiy, having promised such an interesting and moving analysis oi what drives the modern terrorist mind, the play Itself comes as a bit of a disappointment. It’s the sort of piece which makes the dangerous assumption oi equating Germany with fascism, while ignoring such genocidal instincts as part oi a greater European tradition for which we are all culpable. The morality oi terrorism ls evaluated In terms oi dead children’s lives, a dubious assumption which demands an investigation It does not receive.
7:84's opportunity to study a situation desperately pertinent to British audiences is sadly wasted in a welter oi cliches and a plethora oi received Ideas, which is in Itself a greater political statement than that provided by leather iacketed figures shouting ‘l’m sorry’. Subtlety and ambiguity are the marks of morality, and today’s terrorists are tomorrow’s statesmen, but bad staging and melodrama have the sort oi permanence It is difficult to forgive. (Stephen Chester)
mum. MUSICAL cHAIns
Seen at John Mains Community Centre, The Gorbals. (in tour.
First Shirley Valentine and now Chrissie Dates. The Scottish stage is becoming a platform for women’s discontent at their lowly position in the social strata. But it’s at a cry from the railings. These productions are bitter-sweet dramas played out in the confines oi dream kitchens. Wildcat’s new show, even when performed in a half-filled draughty
hall, still buns with the audience's empathy with the characters.
Chrissie is a single mother oi three. To the constant background racket oi video games and techno music, she tries to pull her life together and find a job. First she has to deal with the surreal and patronising approach of the Government-run Job Club, the demands of her children and the occasional appearance oi her ex- husband. Just when she Is at last in control of her own destiny with a new job, boyfriend and cash in the bank, her mother develops Alzheimer’s disease and her whole life comes tumbling down.
It sounds depressing but isn’t. Horag Fullarton’s script is lively, funny and compassionate without resorting to sentimentality and Jennifer Black as Chrissie, and Ida Schaster as Granny, give faultless performances.
But this Is a musical production and microphones are whipped out of sofas, pulled out of drawers, and the keyboards in the background play themselves. Personally, i could live without the songs.
The List 2| May—3 June NW 49