Reconstructing Paradise is a tricky business, discovers Thom Dibdin.
The BBC religious broadcasting unit has been in touch with The Electric
Company to cover their Paradise — The ,
Second Draft. At least they wanted to — whether they will when they discover God is gay remains to be seen.
‘In a sense that was a mistake,‘ admits Richard Turner who co-wrote the play. ‘We had two sketches and we realised if we put God in one and linked the two up together. it would turn out that God gets a date. But the way the first sketch works, God has to get a date with a bloke.‘
Paradise is a sketch show sewn together around the idea that God has been called up before the heavenly board and told if he doesn‘t redesign the earth, it will be put out to tender with Thor likely to get the contract. Given seven days to re-work creation. God is a bit stuck as he hasn‘t done this for a while. so he enlists the help of his old pal Satan. On each ofthe days the couple redesign a little bit more, along Satan‘s basic principle that they should only keep the popular bits and throw out the stuff like avacados and courgettes that no one really likes.
‘lt is really about what is valuable on earth and the way that gets ruined by
commercialism and mass culture,‘ says Turner. ‘The way things like poetry get turned into Purple Ronny cards. People eat a MacBurger and think it‘s a meal. it starts out with light weight things but it gets nastier and nastier. The idea is that people will see where we have got to, they will see what the problems are with commercialism.‘
Turner's co-writer was the award winning playwright Robert Shearman who had never turned his pen to comedy before, let alone collaborated on a sketch show. ‘l’d do it again, but it 'wasn‘t easy.‘ says Shearman. ‘On your own, you’re only answerable to yourself so it is simpler, but there was a
TheElectricCoqarywitha heavenlyteaeer certain joy in writing with someone else.‘
' Both agree the collaborative element was well worth the effort. What had started out combining Shearman’s idea of a play about lowest common denominator culture and Turner's one of a creation sketch show took on a life of its own. Although the result is comedic. not polemical, it has a dark element to it and a serious message.
I Paradise - The Second Iirait (Fringe) The Electric Company,
Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 3 Sept, l.l5pm, £5.50/£6.50 (£4.50/£5.50).
My Children! My Africa!
There’s been a lot oi water (and blood) under the bridge in South Airica since Athol Fugard wrote My Children! My Airica! in 1989 - the release oi iielson Mandela, the end oi apartheid and the advent oi a democratically elected government to name the major changes - but the play still has pertinent questions to ask about South Airica’s iuture.
The plot concerns shitting relationships - the growing tension between an articulate pupil, Thani, involved in the boycott oi the imposed education system and his schoolmaster Mr M during the preparation tor a literary competition, and the ldolisation oi Mr M by a white girl, lsabel. Sort oi Sarailna, minus the
is. ~ * Pre-de-ecracy South Attican blues song and Mace.
‘The real issue oi the play is whether it’s education iirst, then ireedoni, or ireedoni iirst, then education,’ says director Philip Swan. ‘The way you Iookattheplaynowlstoseewhat’s going to happen to black education in
South Airica. We’ve got this whole generation oi boys who boycotted their schools who’ve got very little in the way oi skills apart irorn mass
action and intimidation and this is one
oi the country’s worst problems at the moment. There’s the sense that things have happened since the play but I don’t think it invalidates it.’
In tact the beneiit oi hindsight is a poweriul enhancing tool for the audience.
‘A major issue is the power oi language,’ says Swan. “The iirst scene is a debate. It's the power oi language set against the stones and iightig
~ and petrol cans and that’s a realm conilict in the play. The irightenlng thing is, mass action and violence did bring about change. lied they taken the Iineoitheeiasterthenprobebly things would never have happened.’ (Fiona Shepherd) My Children! My Airica! (Fringe) KcS Theatre Company, Overseas iiouse (Venue 19) 225 5105, 28 Aug-3 Sept, 2.15pm, £5 (£3).
Kathleen Morgan discovers a tow gems hidden amid the mind-boggling heap oi iestival culture between 1-3pm.
I Fever Pitch Fast, funny theatre based on the best football book ever, with Stephen North as an obsessed fan giving it laldy for 45 minutes each way. Fever Pitch (Fringe) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, 22 Aug—3 Sept. 2pm, £7/£8 (£6/£7).
I People Your Mother Would Have Disapproved Of An energetic musical romp through a rogues gallery of unsavoury characters from American and British musicals. The songs of the con-men. anti-heroes, tarts and pimps. People Your Mother Would Have Disapproved Of (Fringe) Menagerie A Trois, Greyfriars Kirk House (Venue 28) 225 3626. 22 Aug—3 Sept, 1.35pm. £4.50 (£4).
I A Piece Oi My iieart Shirley Lauro's powerful true drama follows five nurses and a country and western singer to Vietnam.
A Piece OfMy Heart (Fringe) Festival Theatre USC-USA. Old St Paulis Church and Hall (Venue 45) 557 6696. Until 31 Aug (Weds and Sats only). 3 Sept. 2pm, £4 (£3).
I One Flew Over The Cuckoo's iiest Ken Kesey’s classic tale of suppression and individuality in a psychiatric hospital, brought to life in a compelling show by a leading British student theatre company.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (Fringe) Blow Up Theatre Company. Marco's (Venue 98) 228 9116. 22 Aug—3 Sept (not Tue 30). 2pm. £4.50 (£3.50).
I South Airlca, We Love You As the new South Africa takes tentative steps as a democratic nation, this comedy musical captures the sense of joy and new-found peace felt within its boundaries. Five stories told through dance, drama and music.
South Africa, We Love You Cape Town Youth Theatre Company (Fringe) Festival Club (Venue 38) 650 2395, Until 20 Aug, 2.15pm. £5 (£4.50).
The List 19-25 August 1994 25