W ' m
Twelfth flight: superb comic acting
Gender is often confused and confusing. An awakening sexuality can assume disguises. Such are the themes at the heart of Shakespeare‘s comedy about the shipwrecde twins Viola and Sebastian. Viola thinks her brother
g The Arches Theatre has
come up trumps with a
x : stunning production of
Arthur Miller’s witch-
hunt drama. Mark Brown
‘ j was there.
The (.‘rucib/c's hysterical. suffocating
atmosphere of persecution is perfectly situated at Glasgow‘s Arches where it
is being staged in a purpose-built
theatre-in—the-round in the vaults : I behind the regular theatre. Here. the \ players enter from many different
' points as sounds echo from beyond the immediate space in what is an excellent representation ofthe metaphorical
9 power of Arthur Miller‘s drama on a
drowned and assuming a male disguise.
becomes the go-between for the besottcd Duke ()rsino and the scornful Lady Olivia with disastrous results when ()livia falls in love with her.
In its day. since all the female parts were played by boys. the conceit regarding sexual identity would have had added layers of ambiguity and wit.
Interestingly. this excellent Lyceum/ Salisbury Playhouse collaboration chooses not to pursue the gender- bending theme. The metaphysical mechanics of love nourished through a false sexual identity are never really given a dramatic focus in the actors‘ performances (()rsino‘s confused attraction to his manservant ~ Viola in disguise — is underplayed by being too straight). Instead lsabella Bywater's bewitching set design creates an Arcadia in which the characters are depicted as magic lantern shadows and the revolving Renaissance box from which they spill is a Tardis ofcomic
the jester sings a closing ditty as he moves among frozen characters that resemble abandoned toys.
The production feels like an oven celebration of Shakespeare. with the imagination behind the characters greater than the characters themselves. The presentation can seem a little antique and limited in dramatic possibilities. yet after 38 performances the show is as polished as this ﬁne ensemble troupe can make it and the comic acting is superb throughout.
Peter Kelly's Malvolio is a wonderfully cranking up of pace that might give it
funny. bitter sweet portrait of incapable love. a cross between John Knox and Rikki Fulton. (Ronan O‘Donnell) Royal Lyceum Theatre. Edinburgh. Until Sal 3 Dec.
- Seen at Hetherbow Theatre, Edinburgh. I
1" »’ " 'f 3“} '_. ‘. rial. i l i, ,. .’ I “wl ' i “ll.
The Crucible: frightening severity
society teetering on the brink of the ; most insane and sinister paranoia.
A sparse. austere set and the reverberating acoustics of this
extraordinary venue heighten the ‘ intense mood of Andy Arnold's chilling
and compelling production. Flawlessly precise. compulsive performances bring home the universality of the theme of repressive inquisition. which pre-dates the Salem witch trials of I692 when the play is set. and which is no less relevant today. four decades after McCarthy‘s anti-communist hysteria when the play is written.
The play‘s dark humour and deep. menacing irony are presented with frightening severity. Lewis Howden is superb as the panic-stricken. bewildered. but ultimately heroic John Proctor. Sharon Shrubsall's animated rendering of Tituba is all the more terrifying for the sheer exuberance of her acquiescence.
As long as there are accusatory fingers pointing at hapless pariahs in our ; society. Miller's play will retain its astonishing significance. You'd search hard to find a more powerful i production of The Crucible than this 5 Arches presentation.
; The Crucible. 'l'lw Arc/16S. (I/(U‘ymr. until Sat 26 NM".
Whodidit?: And why?
3 Sold on the strength of Graeme
Robertson, Take The High Road’s P.C. Kirk, in the lead role, this is truly Poor Theatre in practice, as a cartoon detective, a serial killer in a country house and some very bad puns make
for a slight, amusing evening of
harmless Agatha Christie pastiche. Of course, it’s been done before so often that the detective spoof is fast
becoming as big a cliché as that which it satirises. However, Heil
. Harrison’s smart knowin scri t and sublime language. At the end. Feste ' ’ g p
makes a virtue of bereft resources as a slick, versatile, four-strong cast play nineteen characters on an empty
1 stage, dragging hackneyed genre ; formula into more post-modern
T David Kane’s first ever stage play from
territory, reminiscent of Grave Plots,
way back. Despite a strong ensemble performance, which also features
; Julie Coombe, John Maclsaac and the wonderfully huger than life Kevan
Mackenzie, the self-conscious
'1 luvvying it up can be wearing, and the
whole thing would benefit from a
more of the madcap energy required.
Brownie points for having a go, but the biggest mystery for me was why
3 anyone would want to do this in the
as it is, a sharp producer with their ‘ eye on the main chance could do ; better than grab this by the scruff of
the neck and thrust it firmly in the dubious limelight of the main house touring circuit, where it would no
doubt run and run. And run. (Neil Coopen
imam- jJDSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICDLDR
: Edinburgh Playhouse, until Sat 4 Feb.
The original Joseph was first performed in March 19-69 as an end- of-tenn school production. Since then
I the show has been dragged to a
protracted 1hr 50min; now, the
storyline is so tenuous and the
characterisation so weak you could do with a taxi to follow what little plot there is.
Last year’s record breaking 23-week
run of Les Misérables set a very high
standard for future musicals to follow: superb acting, singing and dancing
- combined with a stunning son et
lumiére made it a hugely enjoyable show well worth the admission price. In stark contrast, Joseph and the
Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is second rate. Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber must be laughing all the way to the
bank, because this is no more than a pantomime tarted up as a musical. The main problem is that it reeks of
j the glamour, glitz and shitz that typify
a Royal Variety Performance. The
glamour is provided by the all-too-
infrequent quality choreography and
. raucous costumes. The glitz is
provided in the bizarre musical numbers, including a country and
1 western version of ‘One More Angel In
Heaven’. The shitz resides well and truly in the props department which wheels out technicolor sheep, staccato camels and numerous signs of modernity.
Thankfully the show is saved by an excellent cast. Phillip Schofield proves he’s more than just a pretty face. He works superbly with the cast
The Brothers are a well organised
allurineg animated as Jacob, Potipher
and the Guru.
I The Pharoah David J. Higgins
; ruthlessly plays to the audience and
rightly receives wild, stomping cheers.
j The biggest cheer is reserved for the ‘megamix’ finale (which seems to last
most of the second half) and for stud-
; u-like Schofield himself. (Philip
marm- ; BDDTHIES
l Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, until ( Sat 26 Hov.
; Before video nasties and Sky sport,
i people made their own entertainment. While the more genteel might have sat t glume round the piano, the working
! classes preferred the lure of the
5 cheap spectacle to be had in touring
§ fairground boxing booths. Here they
could see the opportunist, the over the ‘
i hill, the punch drunk or just drunk go Ir through their paces, blissfully
unaware they were being conned out of every penny they had.
Robin Peoples’ revival of Peter Murray’s play captures the banter of this all-male world in all its cocksure bravado. From Eddie, the silver- tongued spiv on the run from several paternity suits, to the ageing, alcoholic Hughie, presumed dead at one point, the double talking kidology of the jaded couldabeens is spot-on. Dnly Davie, the naive, idealist newcomer who carries a shilling given to him by Benny Lynch, is reluctant to play the game, unwilling to kowtow to the razor-wielding mobsters who run the book.
Unfortunately, despite a finely tuned ensemble cast, the piece never really gets beyond the banter. With the Welfare State just around the corner there are occasional excursions into higher debate, though these never go far enough to convince that this is intended to be a serious analysis of the social conditions surrounding a dying form of entertainment. This, along with an over-convenient cop-out : of an ending that descends
i inexplicably into farce, made for a who, in turn, give him capable support.
harmless enough evening, though the play’s uncertainty of its own identity
first place. Still, inconsequential fluff 3 group and Malcolm Bennie is f was unsatisfactory. (Heil Cooper)
The List 18 .\'ovember~l December 1094 49