Guy Masterson as Captain Cat. Evans the Death and 67 others in Under Milk Wood

Last year Guy Masterson played 69 characters in not much more than an hour. This year he’s back with a comparable number of new ones as he performs his own single-handed adaptation of George Drwell’s Animal Farm. If that sounds a daunting prospect, just remember that last year’s show was a one-man Under Milk Wood - an accomplishment that is even more audacious given that Masterson’s uncle was Richard Burton, the great Welsh orator who put such a firm stamp on Dylan Thomas’s poem in the first place.

But at least the tale of Llareggub was written to be spoken out loud how well does Orwell transfer to the stage? ‘The characters are just as ebullient,’ says Masterson. ‘lt’s a very different style in that the characters don’t speak in this lyrical poetic way. However, I’ve taken a lot of the resonances of Under Milk Wood in the style of the adaptation, the way Dylan Thomas used to throw away lines, the art of the story-teller . . .’

Performed in much the same way as Under Milk Wood - one man, a bare stage and hardly any props - Animal Farm is being played as much for the strength of the story as for its political allegory about the dangers of totalitarianism. ‘So many people have put so many political connotations on it,’ says Masterson, ‘and those shouldn’t be rammed down people’s throats. I also don’t think that the fact that it is supposedly about communism in Russia necessarily means that it can’t have resonances with Thatcherism and what’s happening today.’

Though he claims to be taking a political back seat, Masterson admits that a fair few impersonations could be sneaking in. ‘Well,’ he hesitates, ‘I might throw in a certain characteristic that implicates that this might be a Portlllo or Malor or whatever . . .’ (Mark Fisher)

Animal Farm, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 25-Sun 29 Jan.


For the freelance director, the freedom from bricks and mortar- inspired headaches is counter- balanced by the vulnerability at the very heart of the job, where employment opportunities are scant and competition fierce. Caroline liall, though, seems to be wielding this double-edged sword to her advantage. 0n Golden Pond is her third Lyceum production, following on from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and To Kill A Mockingbird, all, coincidentally, better known through other mediums. ‘I seem to be haunted by celluloid,’ laughs Hall, before stressing the theatricality of her current production.

‘It was the humanity of the piece that appealed, the way it looks at how a relationship between father and daughter can tester for over twenty years, with all this emotional mud beneath the surface. There’s also the relationship between the old man and the boy, who’re both mad at the world for different reasons.’

Since finishing her traineeship at The Tron, Glasgow, two years ago, Hall has made a name for herself on larger stages as well as with more esoteric work for the likes of Fifth Estate, but

is now widening her net even further

with the launch of her own company, the aptly named Diva.

‘l was particularly interested in finding an active and articulate, though not separatist, female voice, and promoting the work of women

, theatre artists, especially actors, for which there simply aren’t enough

pieces for them to fly with,’ she says. Brilliant Traces, Diva’s first production, which will tour in the spring, will hopefully redress the balance. It will also further llall’s links

with The Tron, which is providing rehearsal space and marketing support.

Future plans for Diva are bubbling, though Hall is in no danger of putting all her eggs in one theatrical basket. Straight after The Lyceum she starts work on Beaumarchais’s The Barber of Seville, at The Arches, and in the autumn, will take part in the Quebecois Festival of Canadian

Caroline liail

Theatre at London’s Gate Theatre,

5 hopefully with a Scots translation. But would she at some stage forsake all

; this to run a building-based company? { ‘Yes,’ is the short answer, ‘Though l’m not aware there’s one available.’ She pauses. ‘Apart from The National.’

? (Neil Cooper)

i (in Golden Pond, Royal Lyceum

Theatre, 13 Jan—4 Feb. Brilliant Traces ; will tour in the spring.


Seen at Robin Anderson Theatre, Glasgow. Returning tor a spring tour. A hot air balloon of a good idea, Tim’rous Beasties is held down by some outdated gags and the demands of this comedy of near farcical proportions. Nevertheless, despite lacking a little of the pace necessary for this kind of work, the show, the first of five to be produced in the first year of the Theatre Works company, is an undoubted success.

‘Rebel with Bonnie Prince Charlie’. The massive advertising campaign for the whisky launched by an aristocratic Scottish heiress, in a last ditch effort to recover her riches, is unwittingly turned into mass revolt in the hands of two small-time Govan crooks. All paths cross each other as the added dimensions of a dole cheque scam and a neo-Victorian sexual indiscretion, with the assistance of half a Fiat, drive the plot forward.

Written by Patrick Evans (of the Fools Paradise comedy club fame), there are as many wonderful one liners here as there are jokes of dubious topicality regarding Celtic Football Club’s recent travails. The amply decorated, and aptly named,

Derek McLuckie, outstandingly funny . as the heiress Lady Glen, is further

f furnished with the best of Evans’s comic touches.

A pranksterish sense of fun pervades this generally irreverent play. Many sacred, and not so sacred cows are slaughtered here; from the Tory Party, the police force and the aristocracy to Scotland’s sense of national identity which currently comprises, it is mischievously conjectured, little more

hPra-nksterish fun in Theatre Works’ first irrevent comedy

; than a third-rate football team and a i famous alcoholic beverage.

9 Bright and raucous, Tim’rous

: Beasties gets Theatre Works off to a 3 nice start. Battling in the slightly

5 awkward setting of the Scottish Ballet n Studios during panto season, the

1 company looked more than ready for | the rollercoaster ride of being one of ; Scotland’s hardest working theatre

g groups in the coming year. (Mark

i Brown)

52 The List l3—26 January l995