Donald Hutera looks forward to two cross— discipline dance companies opening in the final week at Continental Shifts.
Americans are responsible for some of
the most intriguing. imaginative dance- :
theatre on the Fringe. Metamorphosis and transformation are the creative watchwords of Bud Blumenthal. co- tlirector of the Belgium-based contemporary dance company Tandem. and Kathy Rose. a Manhattanite who heads Kabuki-Menco Visual Theater. Cross-discipline is the key to their unique. challenging work.
The greyhound-thin Rose is a weird. angular beauty. ln Ancient Mysteries she stirs animated and live-action film. limited but exotic movement. fantastical costumes and lighting into an oddly palatable performance-art potion. Watching Rose is like catching a celluloid-crazy Mattha Graham at a kind of futuristic fashion shoot. just after she's selectively hinged on
5 expressionist. Egyptian and Afro-Asian ; art forms and rituals (to name but a few i
‘ l Fis/itrat'ks is his collaboration with
Kathy Rose: weird angular beauty
of Rose‘s many influences).
Choreographer-dancer Blumenthal entered the dance world ten years ago. after training in sports till age 25. Yoga and tai chi chuan softened his natural athleticism and helped prepare him for the stage. The complex-sounding
maverick Arizona-born composer- musician Garrett List. The Belgian
press has waxed poetical about their seemingly seamless two-hander. This is ﬁtting. given that both men were inspired by the confessional poetry of another Yank. the award-winning Theodore Roethke. who died in 1963. Roethke‘s verse figures directly in Tandem‘s hour-long show. along with dance. live and recorded music. computer graphics and animation. and striking lighting effects.
It‘s hard to get a handle on what exactly Fishrrat‘ks is about. or what happens during it. Blumenthal compares it to a laser disk consisting of nine tracks. four of which are transfers. or bridges. between the other five principal tracks. This elusive piece progresses. as he puts it. ‘from abstraction to flesh. or realism’. changing registers each time it moves to a new track. The myriad shifts are playful. surreal. serious. uplifting.
Blumenthal cites another set of tracks.
F ‘the apparently invisible ones left by
fish in the molecules of the water.‘ He and List conjure a mutable onstage universe. inviting the audience to crack the code of their liquid spoor. As with Rose. it promises to be quite a catch. I Fishtracks (Fringe) Continental Shifts (Venue 62) 346 I405. 29 Aug—3 Sept. 6pm. £5 (£3).
I Ancient Mysteries (Fringe) Continental Shifts (Venue 62) 346 I405. 29 Aug—3 Sept. 9pm. £6 (£3).
Armstrong’s Last Goodnight
First up on the recent list of 20th century Scottish plays, produced by the iiational Theatre for Scotland Campaign to draw attention to a neglected repertoire, is Armstrong’s Last Goodnight, a play written by an Englishman who now lives in Ireland. Such an accolade is an interesting reflection on the interdependency of Scottish and English culture, but it also draws attention to the amount of homework that its author, John Arden, was prepared to go to achieve historical accuracy.
Written in a formalised version of the dialects of 16th century lowland Scots (in much the same way as Arthur Miller came up with his own version of early American speech in The Crucible), Armstrong’s Last Goodnight tells the story of Sir David Lindsay, author of The Thrie Estaites, and his attempts to cement a peace between Scotland and England by befriending the outlaw Johnny Armstrong. ’lt’s
l“ “ to
about the way a political establishment imposes control,’ says assistant director Steven Gale, pointing out how this has become an ever—more forceful theme in Arden’s work since the play was produced in 1S4.
That production was at the Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, and the play was quickly picked up by the emergent iiatlonai Theatre which produced it at the Old Vic, london, the following year in a production by Bill Gasklll. Thirty years later, Gasklll is joining the Royal lyceum company to direct the play for a second time. ‘iie did dig out his old prompt copy,’ says Gale, ‘but he is
em Gaskill’s london production of Armstrong’s last Goodnight in tees
generally reappraising it — he is a scrupulous reader of text.’
Performed by a first-rate Scottish company of sixteen, the play is continuing its run after the Festival, enabling regular lyceum audiences to see work on an otherwise forbidlngly big scale. ‘lt is a challenging play,’ says Gale, ‘but it’s not lost a thesis on stage. It’s very theatrical and the images are strong and clear.’ (Mark Fisher)
Annstrong’s Last Goodnight (Festival) iioyal lyceum Theatre Company, Royal Lyceum, 225 5756, 31 Aug—3 Sept, 1pm (Thurs and Sat mats 2.30pm), £44218.
Top tips between 6pm and 8pm from Mark Fisher for the last ten days.
I Best of the Fest 2 You‘ve spent the past two weeks in a drunken stupor. incapable ofactually seeing any shows. Here's your chance to make amends and tell the folks back home about all the acts you saw. ()ne bill featuring Jack Dee. Richard Morton. Mark Thomas. Rhona Cameron and Mark Thomas.
Best oft/1e Fest (Fringe) Jack Dee. ett‘. Edinburgh Playhouse (Venue 59) 557 2590. 29 Aug. 7.30pm. £10.
I This Glum Adventure Repeats itself Every Evening Worth a look for the title alone. this show by Mandala Company also comes with the promise of seeing award-winning Polish experimentalism at its tnost poetic and surreal.
This Glam Adventure Repeats Itself livery Night (Fringe) Mandala Company. The Demart‘o Ifuropean Art Foundation (Venue 22) 558 337/. 29 Aug—3 Sept. 6.15pm. £4 (£3).
I Falling in Mine Powerful and distressing one-woman show about self-mutilation and escape starting playwright Christine Entwistle.
Falling in Mine (Fringe) Cross Breed. Greyfriars Kirk House (Venue 28) 225 3626. until 3 Sept. 7.45pm, £5 (£3.50).
I Moscow Stations Tom Courtenay revives his spell-binding one-man interpretation ofa novel by Venedikt Yerofecv in which a terminal drunk tries to get from the centre of Moscow to the outlying Petushki.
Moscow Stations (Fringe) Traverse Theatre (Venue I5) 228 I404. until 3 Sept. various times. £8 (£5).
I Merlin Arthurian legend meets arcane Catholic ritual meets post- communist Poland. as Weirszalin turns up with another feast of puppetry. story-telling and music.
Merlin (Fringe) Wierszalin (Poland). Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425. until 3 Sept (not Suns). 7.30pm. £7 (£4).
"l'he List 26 August—8 September l994 35