Waiting for Godot
Andrew Burnet patiently attends a bright new production at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum.
Samuel Beckett's cruelly ironic. achineg compassionate masterpiece.
tackling no less a theme than the awful predicament of being human. can be
lapproached in one of two ways. It can
1be given a more-or-Iess naturalistic
treatment. allowing its stranded anti-
heroes to deliver an earnest lamentation
of woe; or it can be rendered as stylised
l slapstick. its emotional content suppressed and implicit.
‘ Kenny Ireland's exuberant production
and Dermot Hayes‘s bright-coloured. Modernist design opt joyfully for the latter path. and within minutes it
i becomes clear that Sam would have
l He would not have been disappointed
l in the cast. David Shaw-Parker's
i petulant. pedantic Estragon strikes all
I the right notes in the powerplay of
§ dependency which is the play‘s central
relationship. and Rab Christie as Lucky
makes a dazzling oraton'o of one of the longest and most treacherous tracts in 20th century drama. Eric Barlow's dandiﬁed Pozzo is nothing short of superb: but in this interpretation it is Vladimir who carries the play's spiritual heart. Athletic and clownish. Tam Dean Burn wrestles manfully with the character's existential pessimism. teetering boldly on the thin line between the tragic and comic elements without once losing his footing.
It’s a rich. fruity cake mix. with an atmospheric icing provided by Pete Gordon and John Harris‘s score. It‘ll make you laugh; it’ll make you cry. Wonderful. iiitr'tingfnr Gmlor. Royal Lycean Theatre. Edinburgh, until 1 April.
Tam Oean Burn. David Shaw-Parker and Rab Christie: ‘Sam would have approved’
SWING HAMMER SWING! The Citizens Theatre, Glasgow. Until Satl Apr.
The trick with these parochial nostalgia pieces is to strike the right emotional balance. So when the curtain rises to the strain of The Beatles’ ‘In My Life’ you’re prepared for an elegiac tenderness. Within minutes you’re laughing at the local ‘characters’ and the colloquial wit. Soon enough there are sombre ‘pause for thought’ moments. Giles Havergal’s dramatisation of Jeff Torrington’s Gorbals odyssey is sensitive, uproarious, credible . . . human.
In the course of a few days out of protagonist Tam Clay’s diary (the pre- Christmas rush, 1968), our laidback combat-jacket-clad hero encounters Gorbals life in its many colours, including three untimely deaths, a couple of trips to his nippy sister-in- law’s house, some alcohol-enhanced episodes and a spot of marital infidelity. Along the way he witnesses the sectarian hate, petty racism and social climbing that are the fabric of his environment.
Aside from Alastair Galbraith as Tam Clay, the cast pass the responsibility of narrator around and take on multiple roles, be it the old man who likes an eyeful of ice skaters’ knickers on his clapped-out TV, or the one-eyed cat Cyclops. Jonathan Watson seems to adapt some of his Only An Excuse impersonations for the occasion. Blythe Duff gets to be some of the ancillary characters that might crop up in a Taggart episode. The audience gets a thorougly satisfying evening’s entertainment and leaves with a collective Heady Brek glow. (Fiona Shepherd)
".‘f? ' .‘t ; ng Hamper Swing; ‘cendtive
SAFAR SO FAR
Seen at Pearce Institute, Govan.
A wooden flute plays a long ethereal note; a woman enters balancing a 1 water jug; the coiled heap of silks on stage metamorphoses into three performers, and a stunningly choreographed sequence kick starts Fablevision’s exploration of the tangled roots of Britain’s Asian community. Before you can say Jawaharlal Nehru, the drama stalls and a pedestrian potted history of Anglo-Indian relations brings us to the narrative proper, with young Vishal ; leaving home for Glasgow in search of post-war prosperity.
After marrying a white girl and raising a family, Vishal - played honestly and effectively by Archie Lal - experiences boom and bust, returning in his dreams to the rural idle be abandoned. There is no such solace for his children Chander and Anna, taunted by the bootboys of suburbia and caught helplessly
. uproarious, crible. .
Racist abuse in Safar So Far
between two mutually exclusive cultures.
If Chris Ballance’s play suffers at times from simple-minded didacticism (although the multi-cultural complexities are ably handled), the simplicity sometimes pays off, such as in the tender, tear-jerking death of Vishal’s wife Angela. But the jewel in this tarnished crown is Jaya Oheer, whose graceful dances are more eloquent than the often laboured dialogue. Vishal’s return to an unrecognisably changed India proves that dreams are not enough, and although it progresses fitfully, Safar So Far just overcomes its sleeve-worn worthiness, offering a hopeful vision relevant to, and ideal for, younger audiences. (David Harris)
Seen at Netherbow Arts Centre, now touring.
Two men waiting for donor organs are thrown together in a hospital ward. Brian is a private patient full of pukka Kelvinside restraint, while Len is a gallus patter merchant. After initial hostilities they form an unholy alliance, much to the chagrin of their overworked nurse, who acts as a stoic foil for the Iaddish shenanigans that ensue.
Bob Adams’s play — currently on tour with Annexe Theatre Company - has a touching faith in human goodness, as Len and Brian come to terms with their shortcomings and unfulfilled dreams. When they do a runner a la One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest they never make it past the end of the corridor, inadvertantly summing up the play’s lack of ambition. For it can’t decide if it wants to be a cheeky bedpan and ‘nurse, the screens’ affair or a searing
indictment of the class system and the collapse of the NHS. In the end it’s neither, and this lack of confidence in its own identity is where it falls down.
Having said all that, it is blessed with an infectious warmth and humour, but somewhere here there is a much bigger play desperate to be pulled screaming into life by a large shot of audacity. (Neil Cooper)
FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE
Seen at King’s Theatre, Glasgow. At King’s Theatre, Edinburgh until Sat 25 Mar.
Talk about feelgood. If you’re not already smiling when you walk into Cameron ‘hit musical’ Mackintosh’s latest show, you’ll have a grin big enough to split your face on the way back out.
Songs by Louis Jordan that swing like there’s no tomorrow; dance routines that jump like the floor’s on fire; two- tone shoes, huge kipper ties and baggy breeks with two-inch turn-ups. In other words, all that was good about the good old days of black jazz music and dance (even if it does gloss over a social backdrop of severe racial tension and white control of the showbiz establishment).
An evening of no-holds-barred entertainment it is. But don’t expect just to relax and enjoy the view. ‘The best party in town’ sounds like a marketing cry but for once it speaks the truth. There are brief moments of respite when these five guys by the name of Moe allow you to sit back and savour their soulful renditions of these great songs and Charles Augins’s supremo dance moves done with oodles of charisma, but most of the time, whether you like it or not, you’ll be up out of your seat and dancing in the aisles. (Ellie Carr)
' I. x c ‘ __ . a.“
’ rm Guys Named Moe: ‘talk about foelgood’
54 The List 24 Mar-6 Apr 1995