m Chios and hotels
The rise and fall of Scots heroes seems to be enjoying something of a theatrical vogue at the moment. with boxer Ken Buchanan and now comedian Chic Murray getting the bio-drama treatment at The Pavilion.
Since the Greenock lad‘s climb to the top was inextricably linked to his relationship with Maidie Dickson. the diminutive singer and dancer with whom he formed a double act. The Chic Money Story is very much a showbiz love story. Accordingly. it is told in a showbiz style. with spotlights, ducts and the occasional sentimental song to the accompaniment of a Casio keyboard.
Subtlety might not be the sequinned tenor of this production, but wn'ter Andrew Yule has enough sensitivity and respect for his subject to provide us with a rounded ponrait of an intelligent. difﬁcult but hilariously funny man. fuelled and occasionally felled by innumerable inner demons.
Dave ‘Wildcat’ Anderson narrates the key events of Murray’s life with a charming mixture of imitation and disinterest. unwillingly taking on a variety of roles from Highland compere to female agent to Liberace. It‘s a style that dominates the rest of the production: forgotten stage weights litter the stage and doors don‘t open in
a set that must have cost well under a liver to jerry-build.
But it‘s a design that sits well with the Tall Droll’s timeless routines. flawlessly delivered by the outstanding Eric Barlow. it’s a pity then that the appalling sound system. which appears not to have been replaced since Chic's first appearance at The Pavilion in the early 50s. should have lent a Brechtian air to the proceedings, by rendering most ofthe lines in tinny mono. The rest of the time you couldn't hear a thing.
This wasn't a problem at Edinburgh‘s Royal Lyceum, where most of the lines
I d . ~. ' c ‘* ‘
from A little Hotel On The Side were belted out to the back of the auditorium. irrespective of how funny or not they might be. Given the undoubted abilities of all concerned. the opening shot from the season of ensemble farces came as a bit of a disappointment. Feydeau's play is not one of the most ripping farces ever written, and the attempt to invest every moment with a hammy wink to the audience has a rather bludgeoning effect. Rather than plot the decline of real people into an insane situation. the production opted to treat the entire piece as a vaudeville sketch, with the
opening act pitched a notch below hysteria and staying there for the rest of the play.
The play was. ultimately, entertaining enough, but one was left with the suspicion that much more could have been achieved given the resources. (Stephen Chester)
The Chic Murray Story. Pavilion Theatre. Glasgow:
A Little Hotel 0/1 The Side. Royal L'W‘eum. Edinburgh. until 7 Aug.
Seen at Arches Theatre, Glasgow, playing at the Traverse, Edinburyi, Wed 23—Sun 21 June. Following the success of their Medea: Sex War, Volcano Theatre have now turned to Shaespeare’s sonnets as an excuse to display their ionnldable pyrotechnic style. The dark, obsessive passions which lurk beneath the polished poetry are ioregrounded through violent and bruising displays of perfectly choreographed physical theatre, with the occasional vignette from contemporary life interposed in order to give the performers time to get their breath back.
Unfortunately, the genital rubbing, tongulng and general violence which Volcano love to do and do so well
means there’s very little substance left in the piece: maybe this was the intention, but after the first few minutes of simulated masturbation and audience intimidation you start to wonder why the lads don’t just whip their dicks out and do it for real - now that would be really radical theatre. As it is, the structureless sprawl which is l.D.V.E rapidly becomes an irritation which then turns to resentment when you realise that the nipple licking proposed as high art is clearly keeping the punters happy. Volcano reach for those easy response buttons marked sex and violence and successfully find them, but it does leave you asking if this same audience would sneer at such techniques were
they just part of another Hollywood sex thriller.
The most dubious aspect oi the production is the manner in which it uses genuine physical danger as an audience holding device - demonstrating the sharpness of a knife, for instance, before it is casually tossed about. I don’t feel this is morally or artistically any different from a lloman carnival, and it’s sad to see three brilliant performers risking serious injury for the sake of an audience who’d stamp their feet and whistle just as loudly at The Jim llose Circus. (Stephen Chester)
m STEPHEN HDDPER
Seen at Assembly Rooms, Edinburm. Performing at Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 7-Fri 9 Jul, and Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 10 Jul.
Five dances, 27 dancers and one choreographer - is this a record for the Edinburgh Fling? lone Steven Hooperth the opportunity to showcase a year’s work at the Assembly Rooms in front of a large and supportive audience with some degree of success.
In Duet for members of Khoros Dance Theatre, llooper outlines a rather one- sided relationship. All Scott dances with a cool, long-legged style and Tom Daniel ‘Moved in Stereo’ with her to The Cars’ song, his acting ability serving him well. My criticism centres on the tenuous relationship between
the soundtrack and the dance.
In The Statues Came Down at Dusk and Prayer Before Birth, liooper again supported local dance groups - suddenlylastsummer and Offshoot Dance Company respectively. Both dances are about women, using props and gestures redolent oi femininity, but fail to persuade me that iiooper has yet managed to express womanhood through movement. The dancers, however, show real commitment and flair. As in all but one oi the works, Hooper’s training at Merce Cunningham’s studio in flew York is evident with much repetition oi curved arm/tilted torso positions and bent-leg, attitude turns.
The simplest and possibly most effective work was made for Stirling Youth Dance. The steps are professionally perionned, and the clarity and innovation oi the spatial patterning ensures that the work flows smoothly from trio to group to duo. The dancers maintain grim expressions throughout, perhaps a stern reference to the dance’s title, Walking Without Seeing.
The final work, Trio, is something quite different. Commissioned by the Stamping Cround, it consists of three women singing and dancing. Their unaccompanied voices are both plaintive and evocative in their rendering oi Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus. The seemingly-improvised dance is less satisfying, although beautifully perfonned. Still work-in- progress, it’s final form should be worth looking out for. (Tarnsin Cralnger)
52 The List 4—17 June 1993