_ - Pure uinness

outrageous. To think that he could marry this woman

3 and at the same time pretend that she wasn‘t what she ~ was. and not only that. but actively to take steps to

' protect his family from the woman he professes to

love . . .‘

In most other respects, the play is as different to

: contemporary experience as possible. Set in the

refined. leisurcd world of the well-to-do. The Second

Mrs Tanqueray is nonetheless familiar territory to

Mark Fisher talks to the man from Spender about his return to the stage and his part in Alien 3.

Type-castings a funny business. If you‘ve got the . right looks in the case of Peter Guinness. the right

1 Philip Prowse. a connoisseur of fin-de-siecle

l decadence. ‘He knows that the people who inhabit

.5 plays like Mrs Tanqueray were tem'bly constrained.‘

; says Guinness. ‘Whereas in a modem piece of drama you can shout, scream and chuck yourself about. people in those times, brought up in a particular way

. with a particular set of standards, simply could not behave in an uninhibited fashion. What‘s fascinating

' is to try and find a way of portraying those people.

short-cropped head. gaunt cheek-bones. heavy eyebrows and the sort of eyes that hint he‘s up to no good then you have a TV career mapped out for you. For a while. any producer wanting an out-and- out bad guy or a hard-nosed cop would know that Guinness was his man. You name it. he was in it The Bill. Chuncer. 151 CID. The Chief Van Der Valk . . . it could have gone on for ever. But then he landed the part of D.C.l. Gillespie in two series of Spender a plum role. certainly. but one that instantly eliminated him from playing a policeman or a bad-guy in anyone else‘s cop show; his face was too well-known for his own good.

it was time. however. to get back to the stage. Guinness cut his teeth not in popular TV. but in the classics; lead roles in Hamlet and [)r Fausms. seasons directed by Jonathan Miller at the Old Vic. Shakespeare for the radio . . . His connection with the Citizens' Theatre goes back a long way thanks to his partner Roberta Taylor who is a regular performer there. even though he has yet to grace the stage himself. The offer of a part in Pinero's The Second Mrs Tonqueruy. therefore, was met with enthusiasm. if a little bemusement at director Philip Prowse’s casting against type; Guinness does not see himself as a natural for the witty. upper-class gentleman. Cayley Drummle. ‘Nobody in their right mind would cast me as Cayley Drummle.‘ he laughs. ‘a suave. sophisticated. laid-back wit -- not a sawn-off shotgun

: while finding the limits to which they're dragged.‘

Peter Suiness trades his hard-man image for some turn-ol-the- 5 century wit.

Pinero‘s play. written l0l years ago. was produced

at the height of the playwright’s success. at a time

when he was considered to be equal if not superior to his peers. Shaw and Wilde. The Second Mrs 'liinqueruy is a social-issue drama about a woman with a ‘past', ostracised by society however much she tries to assimilate herself. And as so often happens. the hypocrisy and moral dilemmas that the

‘A suave, sophisticated, laid-back wit - not a sawn-off shotgun in sight.’

play raises have suddenly gained an extra topicality as modern-day politicians are shamed by their double-dealing private lives. ‘lt‘s extraordinary.‘ says Guinness. ‘l’m quite sure that when Philip decided to do The Second Mrs 'l‘anqueray. there wasn‘t a thought in his head about Tory MPs owning up to

fathering illegitimate children. What Aubrey

As in Shaw. lbsen and Chekhov. the play is notable for the strength of its female leads in this

'production Julie Legrand will play the errant Mrs T. a

substantial role that demands a rare combination of wilfulness and victimisation. strength and vulnerability. Modem-day playwrights would do well to learn from Pinero to begin to redress the imbalance between male and female parts. Guinness

is all too aware that his industry is plagued by ; sexism. a sexism that extends right to the top of the

. profession. ‘The ratio of women‘s parts to men‘s

parts has always been hideously out of kilter.‘ he says. ‘But it‘s ironic that very often the parts that are written for women are real crackers. We‘ve got to get back to that. You mentioned earlier that l did Alien 3 and l have to tell you that Sigoumey Weaver is great. not remotely aloof and starry. a real person. But she told us extraordinary stories: the original part of Ripley was a man and when Ridley Scott suddenly decided that it would be quite fun if Ripley was a woman. they made absolutley no concessions to the script whatsoever. which is why Ripley emerges as this macho girl-with-a-gun. It‘s only over the course of the trilogy and as she‘s got more and more powerful within that. that she‘s managed to introduce a more feminine side.‘

The Second Mrs Tanqueray. Citizens' Theatre.

in sight.‘

Tanqueray does to his second wife is quite 1

Glasgow; Fri 28 Jan—Sat l 9 Feb.

Talk back

With students from 24 different countries, it’s hardly surprising that the Le Coq School specialises in mime. Or maybe I’m getting my chickens and eggs confused. Anyway, over the years the Paris-based mime school has succeeded in creating a silent army of graduates who have exported their mute language to all corners of the globe. But the lntemational appeal of the school has had other beneficial effects, resulting in the creation of companies such as

3 Talking Pictures, which boasts a l diversity of nationalities undreamt of in any other theatre company.

Its latest production, Ileartstrings, is directed by Sandra Mladenovitch from the former Yugoslavia, while the cast consists of artists from Brazil, Argentine, Croatia and Britain, communicating in Spanish, Portugese, French, Croatian, Hungarian and English. Which may sound a little odd, ! these sons and daughters of Jacques

le Coq going on stage and, well, talking to each other. lot so, says British performer Jon Potter, who explains that on graduation the group looked around and found that much of their contempories’ work was technique based. As a response to

this, Talking Pictures began to devise work with an emphasis on story and structure, and started employing bits of dialogue (albeit in a different language) to further its aims.

Its latest project is one of their most personal, since the area they set to devise around was ‘the idea of people leaving home, arriving in new countries and arriving in strange places in cultures they didn’t share.’ Thus many of the cast were able to draw on their own experiences to feed into the show, with the result, according to Potter, that the piece is incredibly sad and too uproariously funny for words. (Stephen Chester) Ileartstrings, Traverse theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 2—Sun 6 Feb.


Displacement comedy from talking Picth

The List 28 January-l0 February 1994 53