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' ARMSTRONG’S LAST
I respected director (William Gaskill) ‘ and an intelligent, pertinent script by
such a constricting way that
: Hepburn as the 16th century rebel Armstrong and Alison Peebles as his
Royal lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Until Sat 17 Sept.
That morning at a Festival conference playwright Liz Lochhead had been defining the vigorous nature of Scottish theatre, the way it communicated directly to the audience, the way it was democratic, the way it was up-front. We all left up- lifted, confident that there was energy and vitality in the Scottish theatre beast yet. Perhaps that afternoon’s Royal Lyceum’s International Festival production would even prove the point. After all, why should it not? It had a splendid cast, an internationally
an often neglected playwright (John Arden).
Well, it is up-front all right. But not at all in the sense that Lochhead meant. The actors, poor souls, are shoved to the front of the stage in their tights, smocks and floppy hats (the kind of garb that no-one but a } cartoonist would dress an actor in) in
opportunities for real interaction, I either with each other or the audience, are severely limited.
Only once, in the opening scene of
the second act between Stuart
would-be mistress, do we see a glimpse of the chemistry, both political and sexual, that should be :
. ‘ ' .\ , L-- J. ‘ ,~ 'I‘ I . ﬂ :- ,
driving the whole play. Given some
Stuart Hepburn makes a valiant effort in the lead role of Armstrong’s last Goodnight
lt’s ironic that Henk Schut’s
space, Hepburn and Peebles work up a atmospheric set design, a forest of
9 natural ebb and flow of compromise
and negotiation, their characters as instinctively flirtatious as they are diplomatically cautious. If these
; conflicting energies were set loose : thoughout the production, then surely
the sparks would fly more often. As it
I is, the actors, despite their valiant
5 - I0 SEPT
26 SEPT - 1 OCT 3 - 8 ()CT
I2 - l5 ()CT
l7 - 22 ()CT
24 - 29 ()CT
WILDCAT STAGE PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS
) Tlvr Darlings
by Neil Gunn adapted by John McGrath directed by John Bett an epic nm'el a magical play
[7 AUG - 3 SEPT CITIZENS THEATRE GLASGOW HIS MAJESTY’S THEATRE ABERDEEN EDEN COURT THEATRE INVERNESS KING’S THEATRE EDINBURGH MACROBERT ARTS CENTRE STIRLING GAIETY THEATRE AYR
REPERTORY THEATRE DUNDEE ADAM SMITH THEATRE KIRKCALDY
Classes in a wide range of dance styles start l9 September
For autumn brochure, contactzz Dance Base, Assembly Rooms, George Street Edinburgh EH2 2LR Tel: 225 $525
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efforts, are journeying through a featureless terrain that for the most
part makes a demanding text muddy and a power-mongering plot dull.
; broad trees disappearing up into the fly tower, puts you in mind of
I Communicado’s The Cone Gatherers.
: Ironic, because it only reinforces the feeling that a director of vision, such
I as Communicado’s Gerry Mulgrew, would have brought a physicality, a
i sense of conflict, a direct engagement ; with the issues, in short, the up-front
I style that Lochhead identifies and that ‘ this production so dearly needs. (Mark Fisher)
FARCE or cmcumsmuce
Seen at Tron Theatre, Glasgow. On tour.
Should a theatre company which aims to present professional work by both able-bodied and disabled performers
be judged on the same merits as its
peers? The answer has to be yes, as
or patronising. Within these parameters then, this
. Birds Of Paradise production doesn’t
make the grade. Tom Lannon’s script
has as its underlying theme a
; questioning of society’s perception of
i ‘normality’ be it physical or
psychological. Slotting into their
constraining roles are the wheelchair-
bound ex-riveter Peter and the hinted-
schizophrenic Winnie from Bearsden.
We witness their burgeoning romance
and relationship as it zig-zags from
the ecstatic to the bitter.
The play, however, is unfocused: it doesn’t know whether it should plump wholeheartedly for the sex-romp farce ; genre or be a serious drama ; questioning society’s prejudices. The 3 action switches abruptly between the ; two, making for dissatisfying and 1, disjointed theatre.
I That said, Kevin Howell’s Peter emerges as a natural master of Lannon’s smart one-liners, though the comic effect is undercut by Julie
f Campbell’s tendency to overplay the
i oscillating temperament of Winnie.
Essentially their relationship is
unbelievable, not because of their
divergent backgrounds but because the performances do not convince.
§|LSA, QUEEN OF THE NAZI
. anything else would be condescending
Seen at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. At Tron Theatre, Glasgow, until Sun 11 Sept. During the Holocaust six million people were killed simply for being I Jewish. Thousands, perhaps millions f more met a similar late because they .‘ were homosexual or disabled. In i concentration camps, children under
5 five and adults over 50 were refused
medical supplies, while their fellow I inmates died of starvation and
} disease. In Poland’s Maidenek
5 concentration camp alone an
I estimated 1.5 million people were systematically murdered. In many
villages Jewish men were ordered to j dig their own graves before being machine-gunned to death.
As early as 1923 the Ku Klux Klan, an organisation dedicated to the suppression of Negroes, Jews, Catholics and foreigners, was claiming a membership of one million.
Canada’s One Yellow Rabbit seems to find this funny. (Mark Fisher)
52 The List 9—22 September I994