amor— Aoting up
Mark Fisher sees two under-funded actors’ companies doing it for the love of it.
Something really ought to be done about this. Glasgow‘s Raindog and Edinburgh‘s Fifth Estate have generated a disproportionate amount of publicity over the past couple of years. given their age and the scale they are operating on. There is a clear will for these companies to succeed and yet. in the programmes for their current shows, we find Raindog‘s Caroline Paterson dreaming of ‘what could be achieved given the correct level of commitment and funding‘. antl Fifth Estate demanding a ‘radical reassessment’ of the funding cake. Let‘s get things clear. We‘re are not talking about shabby. just-out-of— college outfits of wannabes here. If Billy Riddoch wasn‘t with Fifth Estate. he could be doing a 'lirggart or a Rab
Barbara Rafferty in Raindog's Wasted C. Nesbitt. if Anne Myatt wasn‘t with Raindog. she’d be picking up work on 'litke the High Road or at the Citz. I could go through most of the other performers and crew in rntrch the same way. Neither are we talking about shows that have the veneer of anything other than professionalism.
What we are talking about is excellent actors doing it for little or nothing and that's hardly a sturdy basis on which to build the future of Scottish theatre. l‘m not trying to say that either show is perfect. that's not the point, btrt each certainly has much to recommend. Fifth Estate‘s Lucia by Robert Forrest brings James Joyce and his schizophrenic daughter into a Glasgow high-rise flat.
creating a psychological comedy with a strong literary undercurrent. There‘s a wee bit too much of the clever but untheatrical Joycean punning for my taste and the emotional connections of the story should be made much earlier. but Rosaleen Pelan is on frne form as Lucia Joyce. as is Tam Dean Burn as her father.
Theoretically. Raindog's devised show Wasted suffers from the same limitation as Communicado's Sacred Hearts; both are about prostitution and the web of poverty from which it arises. but neither tells you anything you didn't already know. in Raindog's favour. though. the company doesn‘t look like it’s trying to tell us something. but invests this episodic series of scenes with a believably hard-edged Glaswegian energy that keeps us ever interested. It‘s an ensemble piece with only a couple of wavering moments that reveal its improvised origins and. though l‘m reluctant to single out any one actor in such good corrtpany. Joyce Falconer gives a brilliantly wasted performance as the drugged-out Josey. Wasted. Are/res Theatre. Glasgow: until Sat 2 Aplt Lucia. Fifth [iv/ate. Nether/mu- 'I'heatre. lidinlnn'gh. until Sat 26 Mar:
THAMCABS AND GREYHOUNDS
Annexe Theatre Company. Seen at llorth Glasgow Arts Centre. On tour until 26 March.
From the second you clock the devilish ‘oo-er madam’ glint in Jinty’s impeccably made-up eyes, you just know that this character is going to let rip with a stream of Glaswegian wisecracks faster than you could spit out ‘A half to Maryhill please’.
For the feisty tram conductor, brought seamlessly and hysterically to life by Machair soap-star Alyxis Daly, is the elder of two sisters into whose divergent lives we delve. Via two one- hour monologues, the well-trodden theme of ‘pursuing the Hollywood Dream’ and resulting fame, fortune and heartache is personified by Sylvia, whereas Jinty has been lured by the fame and fortune of Maryhill’s tram system.
In fact this first performance by Daly held us in such rapt attention that it could easily have slipped noiselesst out of Alan Bennett’s ‘Talking lleads’ series. As we accompany the green- clad ticket clipper on her shift, it transpires that beneath the cheery panstick facade there’s an egg-shell heart cracked by marriage and
: miscarriage over the years. Across the
Atlantic in the second half, the humour dims and the script seems less self-assured, more contrived as Sylvia the movie-star has been reduced to shaking her thang in two-bit joints to support a morphine habit.
Deceptively simplistic, yet essentially a spunky, bittersweet production. (Ann Donald)
W THE COMEDY CELLAR
At The 13th llote, Glasgow. Wednesdays.
Initiated by ex-Blind Date contestant and erstwhile comedian-in-the-making Ed Byrne, Glasgow’s novice comedy club was full-to-bursting with connoisseurs of comedy primed for a night of screeching, belly-churning laughter - or that’s the premise
With the affable and pointedly
§ wicked Fred MacAuley at the MC helm ; we were off on a political footing as i he thrashed through a set on
unexploded mortars, nuns and the Irish quandary over Derry or Londonderry. Handling these hot potatoes with wit, he made way for Funny Farm member Lewis McColl. Definitely coming out top in the originality and funny-bone department for the night, McColl has a supreme talent for timing and wry observation topped by a blasting gift for impersonating automobile noises. On a roll he could get mileage out of everything from his home town of Torrance to laconic commentator Bill McLaren.
Where McColl was the epitome of subtlety, newcomer Raymond Mearns’s ten-minute stint was like a sheet of ice down your back; bludgeoning the audience with a set that spun around the merits of ‘iam-rags’ as he delicately dubbed them and the wider implications of panty-Iiners for men.
Parrott’s ln-your-face act has been honed down to shaggy-dog stories on the finer points of women, drinking and kebabs sprinkled with Vim, which
delivered in a Billy Connolly manner stormed straight in at llumber One on the laughometer.
Despite being such a young comedy club, the puzzling spiritual presence of Bernard Manning inherent in much of the comedians’ material left us ; wrestling with the dilemma over 2 whether we were down the Legion club
with Brookside’s lion or at the cutting- edge of new Glaswegian comedy. (Ann Donald)
HEE- DH qur A LDVELY WAR
Seen at the Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow. (in tour.
Thirty years after its conception, Joan Littlewood’s gem of popular theatre
; has lost none of its sparkle in
Wildcat’s hands. Under John Bett’s
= commendable direction, this send-up of the Great War flies by in the first act like a whiu-bang over llo-Man’s
, Land as the doomed youth head off to 3 the fight.
i The pace may ease off in the second
half as the tone becomes more serious
E and the newspaper billboards, which
3 glide on and off on wheels, struggle to 5 keep track of the soaring body-count at the Front. Good and bad jokes accompany enjoyable caricatures to evoke the sad plight of those in the trenches, and to expose the large numbers who actually had rather a good war - from bungling generals to conniving profiteers, such as the munitions manufacturers who ‘made a bomb’ during the war.
With a battleplan in one hand and a pink gin in the other, Dave Anderson is splendid as the detestable llaig, while comic compere Paul Morrow would turn Ben Elton green with envy. Strong performances by Becky Baxter, Simone Lahbib and Pauline Knowles keep the home fires burning and the colourful regalia of the entire cast is as pleasing to the eye as the sad songs and the loud marching numbers are to the ear. Oh, what a pity they can’t waken the dead. (Andrew Gilchrist)
. Thebans at large. but the cumulative
num— Oedipus Tyrannos
Janette Foggo and Jane Bertish in Oedipus Tyrannos The key thing about this Oedipus is that it feels like an event. Kenny lreland's decision to pave over the stalls of the Royal Lyceum has set people talking. elevated theatre from the mundane to the special. just as it should be. And it‘s notjust gimmick. ln breaking the proscenium arch orthodoxy of the stage. lreland has tried to ﬁnd a forrn for Sophocles's tragedy of incest and patricide that connects viscerally with a modern audience; and a forrrr that makes sense for that particular play.
As we rub shoulders with each other. standing at the feet of the actors. shifting our focus from one side of the theatre to the other. we cannot but be aware of ourselves as members of the wider community. part of a social order that is challenged and defined by our shared moral values. i don‘t think we're very good at admitting to this kind of thing and. even if we did. otrr
sense of realism means we take a while to accept being cast in the role of
effect is that we do come closer to the emerging dilemma in which Tom Mannion’s ()edrpus finds hirrrself A his final bloody. blinded trek through the audience is rrrost unsettling as a result.
These are the strengths of the show Tire disappointment is that for a promenade production there’s not actually very mtrch promenading to be done. If we are to stand through a whole performance we need to be continually reminded why were doing it; we should be pushed and shoved. our attention repeatedly distracted by i competing stirnulii. At its best. this production does that. but there are long sections when we could just as easily be back in the stalls. And back in the stalls it might be more apparent that the Blake '3' Seven costumes are rather tacky. the lighting a little flat and the delivery pitched at such a volume that when it‘s time for the real histrionics. there's not much further for the actors to go.
For all that. the show works and not only because of novelty value; it brings a Greek classic alive and reminds us that theatre is about the play not the comfort ofthe audience. (Mark Fisher) i Oedipus 'Irvrannos, Royal Lyceum Theatre. Edinburgh. until Sat 2 Apr.
The List 25 March—7 April 1994 45