Mary, Queen of Scots got herhead
Daniela llardini as Mary Like a stick of rock, this play has ‘Scotland’ running all the way through it, so if you‘re slightly antipathetic to nationalism then it’s difﬁcult to nibble at with any contentment. But possibly that's just me objecting to cultural exclusivity, for this is a play which has become something ofa classic in its time. and audience reaction at the Brunton seems to suggest it has not lost any ofthe impact of its ﬁrst performance in 1987.
it's an all-singing, all-dancing. musically accompanied. stylistically flamboyant show which is an entertaining enough spectacle to watch, but there are moments when one begins to question why this dance is included or why that (always superbly sung) song is relevant. The story itself. of ‘Twa Queens and one green island‘ is not without interest. but it's difficult if you're not familiar with that history to actually follow the narrative. ()ne moment for instance. Mary is top ofthe pile and having a good time. then there’s a sudden flash of light and. blam. Mary's been in prison twenty years. lfl hadn’t read a plaque near The List ofﬁce then id have no idea that this was (possibly) a reference to Mary's hubby Darnley getting blown up.
Another difﬁculty in getting to grips with the tale is the disappointing diction and projection of some of the cast. which coupled with the use of strong dialect left signiﬁcant tracts of the play incomprehensible. Or maybe that'sjust cultural exclusivity in action. Either way there is a sensation on leaving the theatre of having been entertained by the combined energies of talented performers, but that there is nothing you can actually take away with you: except possibly the question ‘What‘s it all about?‘. (Stephen Chester)
Mary. Queen OfScois Got Her Head Chopped 0]]. Brunum Theatre. Musselburgh. until 19 Mar.
‘Why are you here?‘ demands Oedipus.
nearer— Sex and seduction
Fiona Shepherd on heated passions at the Citz.
surveying the audience with narrowed eyes. it‘s a provocative opening shot but he may well ask, as we, the bums on seats, are cast in this production as the people of Thebes, Oedipus‘s subjects. Simon Day is plucked from our midst as spokesperson, the Chorus. Fortunately, he has some lines he prepared earlier.
Clare Venables‘ new adaptation of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex is an accessible production of a story we don't necessarily want to get closer to. but in the Citizens‘ Stalls Studio there is little choice. in a stifling environment where the rivers of blood gushing from Ocdipus‘s eye sockets are so tackily fake, the acting can‘t afford to be.
Despite a passing resemblance to comedian Phil Kay, Cal MacAninch endows the central role with convincing gravity, but how to portray this perpetrator ofthe unthinkable and unavoidable crime? To get inside the head of someone who kills the man who was the father he never knew, then in all ignorance marries his widow, and compounds this tragic chain with the folly of trying to avoid his decreed fate — well, the method school isn‘t really appropriate here, is it?
Knowing Oedipus' and Jocasta’s true mother and son relationship, MacAninch and Joanna Tope have a job convincing that they are hot lovers
in blissful wedlock. but enacting their
” Lia/m .
Gal MacAninch as Oedipus separate escalating nightmares — he with simmering dread and she ﬂitting about desperately in her princess bride gown — they are intense and doomed.
Above the heads of the citizens of Thebes, in the Circle Studio. sexual congress is more graphic but less shocking and forbidden love carries less punishing consequences in Arthur Schnitzler’s comedy of seductive manners La Ronde.
Through a cycle of encounters, Schnitzler seems to have no higher message than that desire knows no class restriction — young gentleman seduces housemaid exactly the same as count screws prostitute — and isn't the language of lust ridiculous?
With typical Citz flexibility of design. high-class residence becomes hush- hush rendezvous becomes boudoir becomes brothel; it‘s all the same bed throughout, physically and metaphorically.
Right above the ‘action‘ (fnarr), The Actress (Julia Blalock harnrning brilliantly) surveys all from her
omniscient perch. before she gets the chance to dazzle in her ultimate ‘performance‘. She casually liaises with The Poet (David Elliot) and they orgasm in sequence with the accompanying symphony, approaching a vociferous crescendo. For this. she receives a basket of ﬂowers. rapturous (canned) applause and the biggest laughs in the whole witty production.
The other two performers. Helen Baxendale and [an Gelder. are excellent too, oscillating between various accents and manners to portray a spectrum of willing sinners.
The primal symbols of light and heat recur. The Young Woman complains of the cold in the bedroom, but is assured that heat will soon be generated; The Actress advises The Count to close his eyes ifit‘s too light. ()bvious motifs, but still more reﬁned than the sledgehammer bawdiness with which, say. a Carry On ﬁlm might deal with the same subject matter.
Oedipus Rex and La Ronde, C itizens' Theatre. Glasgow. until Sat 26 Mar.
4 I IV‘ ‘ .k (L
HERBE- SALON JANETTE
1963. The skirts are short, the kinky boots are long and the eyeshadow is electric blue. Out of the tug of peroxide and hairspray fumes of Partlck’s premier beauty parlour, the classic kitsch dramas of 60s girl groups come belting out. Sung by the cast, these wall-of-sound musical interludes are a poignant accompaniment to this sparkling tell- lt-llke-it-is tale of four gallus women
trying to pursue their dreams before life’s hard realities rain on their parade.
Against the backdrop of hairdryers and Kirbies, we witness the lives, loves and friendships of brazen Bet lynch role-model Rita, uptight lily and harem-scarem Barbara. But it is Aunty .Iinty, the cheery philosoer with the penchant for Sweetheart Stout, (played with sheer sass by Mary Riggans) around whom the other younger bouffant girls whirl.
Together with a winning cast, writer Stuart Thomas has created a knock- your-socks off slice of musical comedy-drama; the sharp as a Stanley knife Glasgow humour laces a potent script that literally dances off the actors’ tongues with mighty effect. I wouldn’t be surprised if this production entered the hallowed realms so far held by The Stearnie. (Ann Donald)
Salon Janette, Take Two Productions. Seen at the Old Athenaeum, Glasgow. Touring until 2 April.
THE TWO GENTLEMEN 0F VERONA
First, let me make it clear that I’m ideologically opposed to the 886: the
floppy fringes, histrionics, llP Englishness and the sort of audiences that all that attracts just don’t appeal. But having fought my way past the foyer (‘can I see some sort oi identification?) and finally got a seat (‘Sit down will you?) my prejudices fell away like a crusty critical chrysalis. For this imago of contentment left in very altered state: never before has such poetry, humour, drama, excitement and tension been squeezed into two and three quarter hours. I could continue typing in such superlatives until the keyboard was bloody but l won’t: suffice to say it’s one oi the best dramas I’ve ever seen. The production is set in the 19303, ostensibly to give credence to the ‘skittish, treacherous, endearing and eccentric’ antics of the lovers who, in typical Shakespearian fashion dress up as boys, betray each other and fall out of love faster than you can say iambic pentarneter. The period not only fits the action perfectly, but also allows some of the most beautiful songs of that decade to be delivered by an onstage band and singer. Chortle, weep and hem: this show expands the realms of the possible. (Stephen Chester) The Tm Gentlemen 0f Verona, King's Theatre, Edinburgh, nntll12 Mar.
The List l l—24 March 1994 49