Demolition man

Sixties revival in the heart of the Gorbals off-duty policewoman implicated. Ann Donald cross— examines BLYTHE DUFF'for evidence on the Citizens’ version of Swing Hammer Swing.

To the musical accompaniment of The Beatles‘ psychedelic tune Yellow .S‘ulnnurine. a deepsea diver emerges from the Planet Cinema in Scobie Street and tiptoes his way through the virgin snow. lnto this surreal scene steps Blythe Duff. aka Jackie Reid from 'Iiiggurt. For Duff has temporarily bid cheerio to Maryhill's girls and boys in blue to team up with The Citizens” in its adaptation ofJeffTorrington‘s Whitbread—winning novel Swing Hummer Swing.

Hailed by the critics for its Joycean exuberance. the novel covers a week in the life of twentysomething. Gorbals slum-dweller Tam Clay as he Juggles his divergent roles as Beckettesque philosopher. Salty Dog saloon regular. faithless husband and would-be wordsmith in a 60s world far removed from Carnaby Street‘s Peace, Love and Understanding.

‘What’s good about the piece is that it never drifts into sentimentality. It really pinpoints the squalor, the seriously sad

people and tragic figures.’

As the disarmineg friendly and animated Blythe Duff explains. the fortuitous geographical siting of the theatre and the coincidental revitalising of the 90s Gorbals. has not been lost upon the company. ’I think it’s a gift for The Citizens‘,‘ she says during a break in reahearsals. ‘There couldn‘t have been another theatre better placed for this production.‘

Taking advantage of their surroundings the cast. in true Strasberg Method style. visited the Gorbals Redevelopment Centre which acts not only as an archive source of the area‘s past but looks to its hopefully prosperous future. ‘We also went to look at ()scar Marzaroli's photographs and slides which will be incorporated into the set and which I think sum up the feeling ofthe book.‘ continues Duff. before putting paid to any couthy notions of a romanticised look at a Gorbals underclass. ‘What's good about the piece is that it never drifts into sentimentality. It never gets into that.‘ lmitating a trill old crone she says: “Wasn‘t it great, didn‘t we all have a good time“ it really pinpoints the squalor. the seriously sad people and tragic figures.‘

Adapted and directed by Giles Havergal. the piece

0n the case: Blythe Duff in her best known role as

‘y {I t: R I‘\

Jackie Reid in Taggart E

is apparently faithful to Torrington‘s text. only slightly rearranging the order of Clay's episodic 3 adventures as he ricochets between maternity : hospital. Joe Fiducci‘s barber shop. Shug Wylie's public lavatory (Men Only) and various scuzzy. drink-sodden haunts. Yet at first glance. Torrington‘s sprawling novel does not immediately lend itself to the stage. Despite the Billy Connolly fuelled toilet/gallows humour and the energising starbursts 3 of vernacular pub philosophising. Swing Hammer Swing revolves around Tam Clay‘s personal and paranoid odyssey. leaving limited scope for any other 5 substantial character role.

Havergal has overcome this dramatic hurdle in an , ingenious way. ‘()nly one person plays Tam all the i way through with the rest of us playing narrators who comment on his thoughts. We also have about seven a g or eight parts each as members of the Gorbals ‘_ : community.‘ explains Duff who plays among others. ; the bitchy sister-in-law Phyllis. the barbed. pregnant wife Rhona and septuagenarian Nelly Kemp.

‘Theatre is my first love. I did it for seven years before tellyland took over. When I get the chance to do this it really reiuvinates me.’

As for Torrington‘s densely poetic and exuberantly colloquial language. huge slabs have been lifted directly from the page only to be re-energised in the mouths of the six narrators. thus hopefully conveying the pace and joyous richness of the author‘s own words. ‘The way the language has been split up, you as a narrator perhaps don‘t even get a paragraph to yourself. or even a sentence.' she says gesticulating it In Magnus Pyke. ‘but maybe only a word within a sentence. so that the language bats across the stage.‘

I This is obviously worlds away from Duff‘s milieu

i for the last seven years and she is obviously relishing

I working with The Citizens‘ before filming for

'liiggur/ resumes in May. ‘Theatre is my first love. I

, did it for seven years before tellyland took over.

i When I get a chance to do this it really rejuvinates

me and it means I can move forward and take it with me to television.‘ Who knows what incarnation the

; feisty and droll Jackie Reid will come back as in the next litggurr series then.

Swing Hammer Swing is u! The Citizens" Theatre.

j Glasgow until 1 April.

Worth the weight

When asked who or what was meant by Godot, Samuel Beckett once replied, ‘II I knew, I would have said so In the play.’ Kenny Ireland, artistic director of Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum, hopes to dispel the notion that only smarties have the answer.

Director Kenny Irelan


d(left) in rehersai with actor Tam Dean Burn

‘Everybody should feel justified in having their own interpretation of this piece,’ he says. ‘You say to the audience: use your imagination, fill in

the dots, what do you think it means? And that’s why I love the play. It’s right in the middle of what I think the theatre should be about. It’s talking

about people waiting for some kind of enlightenment. Now, it’s either God, or it’s death, and they’re in a limbo and they’re waiting for judgment. Or it can be that they’reiust waiting to find some kind of meaning in their life.’

The image of characters dwarfed by nothingness is reflected in the set, your basic Beckettian road and tree, but with a difference. ‘I wanted to use the set to provide the scale of the place. The whole of the Lyceum stage is being created into a huge infinity box. In other words, it goes on forever.’

Frequently described as the Beckett play where nothing happens twice, Waiting for Godot is being rehearsed in a room whose walls are covered in quotes that have come up in

rehearsal. ‘All the themes that he’s dealing with: the idea of what are we all waiting for, what’s life all about? It just all comes streaming in,’ says Ireland. ‘I mean, my brain hurts at the end of every day. You could come up with a different metaphor every day about what these characters represent.’ But despite obvious temptation to lay particular interpretations on the piece, he’s playing it straight. ‘We’re simply playing two tramps, at a crossroads, waiting for this person called Godot. Along come two other characters who relate to them, and it happens twice.’ If only it were that simple . . . (Gabe Stewart) Waiting for Godot, Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, 9 Mar-1 Apr.

50 The List 10-23 Mar 1995