l l I l
MAY DAY SERMON
May Day Sermon: one in the eye for the Pilgrim Fathers
Turning a liX)-page poem written in the 50s into a piece of contemporary theatre is no mean feat: which is probably why Theatre West director John Gallogly carried .larues Dickey's May Day Sermon around in his hip pocket for several years before dramatising it. The epic poem is now a slimline. 60-minute. one- woman show. ‘Sure to become an American classic.’ say the US press. ‘When i read Dickey‘s poem for the first time.‘ says actress Briget Hanley. ‘l didn't absorb its whole meaning — but i wept.‘ I take this to mean it's pretty strong stuff. The play speaks through the final sermon of a Baptist preacher in the deep South to her female congregation. it's not the usual rallying cry: more like one in the eye for the Pilgrim Fathers. ‘lt‘s very pro-worrren.‘ says Hartley. ‘lt's not decrying religion full-stop: just the abuse and repression of women in the name of Ciod.‘ Today in the US. religious fundamentalists of the ‘Hilary Clinton is a foetus-killing. feminist witch' kind are again swelling in numbers. The drama of May Day
.S'ermmt is rooted firmly in
a SOs-style Bible Belt South. but ifTheatre West
can pull it off they may have their play for today.
I May Day Sermon
(Fringe) Theatre West.
l.os Angeles. Greyfriars
Kirk House (Venue 28)
‘ 225 3626. l2 Aug—3 Sept. 5.15pm. £4.5()(£3).
The Heart Ufa Dag. Mikhail Bulgakov‘s satire on the early days of communism. has proved a popular choice for stage adaptation of late. The tale of a scientist who dabbles in eugenics. inadvertently turning a dog into a man. was given a sombre one-man rendition on last year's Fringe and. more recently. an up-beat farce treatment at the Royal Lyceum with Bill Paterson in the lead role.
Now Belfast’s Sightlines Theatre Company has spotted the B-movie potential of the novel. reworking it as Dirgnranl. an irreverent and vulgar pastiche not to be confused with the children’s musical of the same name. Drawing on the tackiest moments of cinema's golden age. director iiamonn Quinn has distilled the story into a multi-media spectacle — ‘in 3-1) vision-o-scope' — that features collapsing screens. segments of home-movies and a dog that eats its testicles.
‘We're making ftrn of the kind of film that wanted to scare you but ended up making you laugh.‘ says Quinn. ‘Not just Dracula but the also- tans as well.'
The genre. he says. fits the relationships in the novel perfectly. while the freedom of their approach allows them to update the end of the story to take account of what happened in post-Bulgakov Russia. ‘lt‘s a lunatic production]
says Quinn. ‘and the audience is never quite sure what's going to happen next.‘ (Mark Fisher)
I Dogman! (Fringe) Sightlines Theatre Company. Church Hill Theatre (Venue 4b) 447 ()l l 1. 12—27 Aug. 5.10pm. £5 (£4).
V DDMEDY BLUE HELMET
Deep into the rehearsal process and Robert Llewellyn still isn‘t sure whether his new play will turn out to be a comedy or a serious work. ‘My personal feeling is that it is a comedy vehicle.‘ says Red Dwarf's Kryton and the one-time .loey. ‘But l'm quite intrigued by the fact that what on the page reads as ajoke line. can be delivered in an incredibly heart rending way. i haven‘t experienced that before.‘
The problem is that the blue helmets of the play‘s title belong to the UN. and it is set in the fictitious but little disguised country of Selovnia. it is Llewellyn‘s response to the conflict in Bosnia. ‘l found myself split into three distinct reactions: There’s nothing we can do. they are just going to kill each other; we should get in there and stop them killing each other by killing them ourselves; and we should get in there and try and love them and make it all better and understand them.‘
()n the page. the manifestation of these attitudes seems incredibly wacky. No doubt they will on the stage as well. but as Llewelyin points out. ‘as we have rehearsed it they have become extremely real. Disturbingly real.‘ (Thom Dibdin)
I Blue Helmet (Fringe) Incidental Theatre. Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. 12 Aug—3 Sept (not Tue 30 Aug). 4pm. £7.50 (£8.5()/£8).
THE CAMBRIDGE MUMMERS
"Not just good student drama but great full stop."
"F...lipping good" The List
Stepping Stones Theatre 12.30 pm every day Tickets £5 (£4 concs)
From Frin 9 Office or Venue tel: 031 225 6520)
34 The List l2—l8 August l994
Mark Pinkosh, American actor, and Essex-born writer Godfrey Hamilton are partners, creatively and personally. Last year Sleeping With You, the tour de force solo Hamilton fashioned for Pinkosh, earned their company, Starving Artists, an lndependant Theatre Award nomination. This year they’re back on the Fringe, for the fourth time, with Kissing Marianne, about two men whose deep but fragile bond stetches back to their boyhood. Joshua (Pinkosh) operates on a level of pure, often child-like feeling: his wounded, mortal wisdom comes from the heart. Will (Bruce Tegart), meanwhile, functions first and foremost from his intellect. The play takes a sensitive, occasionally bitingly funny stab at seeing if this pair can make themselves whole again, despite their opposing perspectives and a thirteen- year separation.
One of the piece’s major themes is the conflict between head and heart. Pinkosh and Hamilton lovingly embody this divide. Pinkosh, at 30, is an exceptionally open, expressive performer with the physical fluidity of a dancer. Hamilton, 44 this year, is an ex-journalist who writes in a deliberately florid style that cries out for just the kind of tempering,
Starving Artists: A deep but fragile bend
' throwaway, conversational rhythms : Pinkosh gives it. Their joint wish is ‘ that Starving Artists continues to
attract as broad an audience as
' possible, of whom Hamilton asks only that ‘preconceptlons and prejudices
are checked out at the door.’ The issues Marianne deals with - reconciliation, loving versus being
loved, the difficulties of intimacy —
are hardly exclusive to homosexuals. Anyway, Hamilton considers it meaningless to dub the production ‘a gay play.’ Yet he waxes eloquent, with a touch of reserved militancy, about
' sweeping terms like ‘the gay
experience’ or ‘gay sensibility.’ lt’s
. simply time, he says, for
heterosexuals to ‘translate queer into their own experience,’ much as gay men and women have had to adapt to straight society. (Donald Hutera) Kissing Marianne (Fringe) Starving Artists - Hawaii, Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 228 1404, 11-21 Aug (Various times) £7 (£4).
new: Liberty, Oregon
John Steinbeck meets David lynch in a dustbowl setting
The pursuit of the Great American Dream has been the inspiration for countless Hollywood movies and forestfuls of books. However, in the play liberty, Oregon by Steffen Silvis, the dream takes a wrong turning and evolves into what has been described as ‘John Steinbeck meets David lynch in the Great American West.’
Nominated for the Best New Playwright at this year’s london Fringe Award, Silvis’s work has been seized upon by the Foundling Theatre company who were keen to dramatise the story of a young woman’s search for her last father during the US Depression of the 30s. Company
director Hatasha Garllsh explains the
weird reference to cult movie-maker
David lynch in the dustbowl setting. ‘The lynch quality is possibly due to the fact that Hadia (the female lead) meets these wild and wacky characters who either help or hinder her on the journey,’ says Garlish. ‘They’re not so much psychotic but have a quality of heightened reality. They also provide much of the dark humour, such as the mad Bible- bashing couple who try to exorcise Hadia.’
It was while working as assistant director at The King’s Head Theatre in london that Garlish first encountered Silvis’s work. How in its 26th draft, Garlish was impressed by the play’s lyrical language and poetic reality. She says, ‘I was struck by that age-old
‘ trick of the writer to look at an
individual struggle and transform it through language into a universal story.’
For Silvis, who drew upon his own childhood experience of Oregon for the play, there is an attempt to capture a sense of history and tragedy often forgotten. He says, ‘The ott- heard assertion that the OS is a country without history is surely one of the most specious convictions. Yet we as Americans perpetuate this myth by our silence and smiling ignorance
of our own past.’ (Ann Donald)
liberty, Oregon (Fringe) Foothold
5 Theatre Company, Traverse Theatre
3 (Venue 15) 228 1404, 11 Aug-3 Sept, E various times, £1 (£4).