Christmas is traditionally a time of families liuddling round a log fire and taking the kids to see the current crop of panto stars. Not so in Australia. where you're tnore likely to find the family at the beach. Nor so at The Traverse. where fourteen tons ofsand tnakes up one such beach for Michael 'Gow's Away“. one of the few straight plays on a Scottish stage this Yuletide.

A gentle, moving work. Away deals with three ordinary fantilies. each at what director Ian Brown calls ‘a point of crisis'. who find renewal through facing tip to their fates. ‘lt’s not a difficult play at all. It‘s deceptively simple and very humane. (Jow doesn’t fight shy of dealing with emotion and sentiment and love. and it's quite rare to find a writer willing to pttt himself on the line for all those things.'

Set in the uncertain context of l‘)(ils‘ Australia. when immigration was changing its society's fabric. and when it was ill cahoots with America. packing its own conscripts off to Vietnam. Army seems to have struck a national chord. and is now a set school test. ‘lt articulates something very specific about Australian society at that time. when there was something very much iii the air. though its message is quite simple and life affirming. Maybe it‘s because the weather's so good. but there seems to be a warmth lll Australian work which we find quite hard to incorporate into our rather grey culture.‘ (Neil Cooper)

Away. TI'Ul't’I‘St lflt’flll't’. Ift/iltbtug/t, 25 Nov-J8 Dec.

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Owen O’Neill gets chatty

In Edinburgh this summer the Perrier judges made it clear they like their comedy 3 bit different, with double helpings of slapstick, please. If you must do stand-up, and we really can’t recommend it, you’d better find an angle, was their simple message. Fortunately Owen O’Neill has an angle - he’s a comedian who doesn’t feel comfortable telling jokes.

O’Neill’s show, which won him a place on the Perrier shortlist, was something of a person i breakthrough because it allowed the freedom not to be funny. That’s as in not meant to be

funny, rather than just plain unfunny. O’Neill can do the gags when required; in fact the first fifteen minutes of his show - ‘the gig’ - is a quick-fire round of above-average material. But the main course is a post-gig chat with the comedian, when O’Neill pulls up a chair and tells stories of his chfldhood.

Observational humour has come to mean jokes based on everyday events - please God, not another airline joke - which audiences have stopped believing actually happened to the comic. This is partly why O’Neill has opted for a more extended style of delivery, relying less on clever links and more on the warmth and humour of the stories themselves.

‘I’ve always been a lot happier being myself on stage,’ he says. ‘I wanted that kind of theatrical space where I can be relaxed and don’t have to be funny every five minutes.’

Most of his stories are about growing up in a working class lrish family of sixteen children. This kind of material

. can easily wander into ‘we were poor, but happy’ territory, but O’Neill avoids romanticising his childhood. He simply

has the ability to quickly conjure characters like the five-foot-nothing

Sammy McMenemey, who talks so fast ~ j no one can understand him. ‘When I

look back it’s kind of clouded, but I

just remember the characters,’ O’Neill

says. (Eddie Gibb)

' Owen O’Neill, Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh, 19 November.


Absolutely devine

When Hunter and Oocherty were last in l you’ll see a new character on the tour I who doesn’t say anything.’

Scotland it was for a three-week stint on the Edinburgh Fringe. Then they only had to compete with overpaid comics, extravagant operas and student plays from all corners of the globe. Now they have to deal with something far more awesome. Fear strikes the hearts of Hunter and Oocherty when they learn they are going to be touring at the same time as Scotland’s greatest living country music legend, Sydney Oevine.

‘lt’s going to be a nightmare for a lot of people,’ divulges Jack ’Mr George’ Oocherty. ‘Will I go and see Sydney Oevine or will I go and see Hunter and Oocherty? The great two Scottish acts head to head. It’s going to create crushes in town centres.’

The highlight of this and their festival show is without doubt the recreation of the ear cutting-off scene from Reservoir Dogs on some poor unsuspecting English-type person in the audience by McGlashan, Oocherty’s inspired rabid, English- hating procrastinator. The duo are however adamant that is the only Tarantino tribute they will be performing.

Jack: ‘I have to make it clear now that there will be no Pulp Fiction tribute and I am not going to bugger Moray onstage.’

Moray ‘Mr Oon’ Hunter: ‘No, it’s too sore.’

Jack: ‘What’s sorer are the Stoneybridgers because they are very shouty and it’s no good for the throat. We are trying to calm down. Maybe

Moray: ‘That would help us find new material. Mr Very Quiet for twenty minutes, yep that’ll pad it out.’ Jack: ‘l’m working on a new midget

character but unfortunately he’s \ furious with everything so there goes

the Mr Very Quiet proposal. Mr Midget

is embryonic at this stage and I don’t know whether he’ll make it to the


. Moray: ‘Embryonic means he’s making

it up.’

As an act, Hunter and Oocherty are happy both to be apart and to regroup as half of the Absolutely team. One of their number, Gordon Kennedy, is the all-new presenter of the National lottery with Anthea Turner. Hunter and

Oocherty are not in the least bit

jealous that Gordie could be in bed with Turner or that he’s earning stack

loads of dosh. Jack: ‘Well being diplomatic, it’s not really our thing to be Mr Lotto. We did

do an advert for Walkers Crisps once when we sold out for the least amount of money we were being offered but

7 that’s it. It’s not that we’re not being exploited, it’s just that we can’t be _ arsed. We only really work every two


Moray: ‘We’re trying to make a living

l as maverick idiots.’ l Jack: ‘We’re succeeding.’ (Philip


Hunter and Oocherty, Oueen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Mon 28 Nov; Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Fri 2 Dec.

F: drugs cocktail party

‘lt is a hugely creatiye force.‘ says Daniel lllslcy. director of performance art company l’rogiect l". abottt the artistic inyentiveness of society ‘s ‘(leneration .\'. ‘lt‘s just been under for a long time. I think w e'ie getting to the point where it‘s getting ottt.~ '

‘l‘he colttpany ’s debttt production. I". consists of three pieces bttilt around lc‘.\l.s by lllsley. an actor at the ('iti/ens‘. on themes of drugs. alcohol and se.\. ’l‘he production aims to :tlllt‘tllttle the ‘L‘lc‘ltlelll til~ c‘lltilc‘c‘. eletttent of pleasure‘ in the way the i.t)sl (ieneration has responded to being denied material and cttltural resources. ‘lt‘s not a critique of the sub-culture.‘ says lllslcy. ‘it just talks about it front within itsell. without bringing tip any social issues of whether it‘s rigltt or wrong. or whether people shotild be doing sortiething better with their ll\L‘s..

lnspired by his \ isit to the Paris cemetery which is the last resting place of Jim Morrison. ( )scar Wilde and litlllll l’lttl. lllslt‘} deycloped lllc‘ lll'sl piece. a ‘drugs cocktail party '. from his e\perience of the drug culture of the many young people wlto slept in the mausoleum there. Sanguine about it being simply a roof oy er their heads. the \ery' matter-of-factness of this e\traordinary ad hoc contntune fortus the basis for the e\ploration of a tnore general e\pei'ience

.-\ declaration of the resilience and defiance of alienated youth. the work

combines e\tra\agaut performance

with liye llls. dancers and musicians. alongside \‘tbrant y isual imagery. to create a radical perltirtnanee/club e\perinient. In trying to forge a new

audience by talking to the very people

it talks about. I”. which culminates in a

celebratory sexual ‘techno play".

promises to be an accessible reflection on liyes often ignored by e\ en the most

progressive theatre. l.\lark Brown)

If (i/ttsguw' hie/tool of Art Sim/ell! I'll/int. 'lit(' 3‘) Not Sit/1 J Dec.

48 The List 18 November—l December 1994