marm— Betrayal/ The Double
It‘s an intimate and delicately crafted play. well suited to the cramped. 70- seat Circle Studio. and rich with Pinter‘s delight in the quirks of English language. The cast. Amanda Elwes. Michael Jenn and especially Gerard McArthur as Jerry. seize its
opportunities with relish. tapping into
Andrew Burnet squeezes in shows at both the Citizens‘ tiny studio theatres.
Harold Pinter could have called it ('o/rr/nrucv. ()r Deception. All three characters — a woman. her husband and his best friend. her lover - are deceivers. conspirators in adultery. But the drama in Betrayal isn‘t about the hush-hush titrllation ofgetting away with it. lt‘s abotrt how people deal with knowing. and the shocking possibilities of not knowing what we think we do.
The play"s chronological scheme works backwards. its first scene taking place after the central affair has finished. We assume. therefore —- as does the cockstrre lover. Jerry —- that there will be no surprises. But as history unravels. both audience and characters gain fresh. disquieting insights.
its seam of ironic humour and often making those famous pauses speak as much as the brittle. understated words. They might. perhaps. have tackled the awkard business of reverse ageing with tnore conviction. but director/designer David Fielding resists giving any indication of period. despite the play‘s eight-year time-span.
Fielding's most obvious contribution is a minimalist. pastel blue design. complete with TV screens that change colour to suggest moods. and a revolving circle in the centre. its purpose is to offer visual variation during static scenes. and to symbolise the constantly shifting level of knowledge and power between the
: characters. it‘s a great idea. even ifthe
mechanism did foul up disastrously on
the opening night. groaning. belching
and farting like a hungover rugby team and brutalising the atmosphere. No such technical hitches in the even
cosier Stalls Studio. where Jon Pope's adaptation of The Double. an early
s‘Silénuii‘on: Brendan llooper in The Double
short story by Dostoevsky. runs as cleanly. smoothly and confidently as a new Rolls Royce. Conspiracy is the theme here too - a prototype of the Russian-paranoid mode which was clearly an inspiration to Franz Kafka. Jacob Golyadkin is a harassed petty bureaucrat with ‘750 big ones‘ to squander. who sets off for a d.._. 's outing in a swanky carriage. only to find that everyone - workrnates. boss. sweetheart — is out to get him. Hope appears in the form of an indigent stranger whom he charitany invites to sleep in his apartment. lrnagine his
horror when the stranger turns out to be a cruelly manipulative version of himself. who is seeking to usurp him.
The absurd contrast between Brendan Hooper's perspiring hamster of a Golyadkin and Eric .Nlacl.ennan‘s calculating. wollish l’)oppelgiinger creates a dramatic tension in itself. This is heightened considerably by the two icin sinister narrator's. Beatrice (.‘omins and Michelle Gomez. who seem all the more in league against (iolyadkin when they assume the roles of his various tormentors. The horror is augmented by Pope's design. a curious amalgam of 19th century gothic and futuristic fetishes. in which blood-sputtered skulls sit next to lurid plastic bottles and gaudy greetings cards; and a further dimension is added by Adrian Johnston's soundtrack: pumping techno beats offset by hallucinatory voiceovers.
Golyadkin's inexorable path to a kind of damnation at the end is as lucidly staged as it was inev itablc. but what much of Pope's cra/ily imaginative production lacks is a sense of narrative clarity. We like the performances. we love the stylistic panache. but let's have a story we can follow. please Betrayal and The Double tire til the Citizens" That/re. (ilttsgmv (HI/ll Sui 2.3
AN GAISGEACHHHE HERD '
Seen at Mitchell Hall, Aberdeen. Dn toun
Four hundred years alter Shakespeare moulded him into a murdering coward, Macbeth can rest in his grey granite grave. The name of the last great Pictish king has been avenged by lnverness-based theatre group The Invisible Bouncers, in Alastair McDonald’s stunning bilingual production of Ike lsaksen’s An Gaisgeach/The liero.
Under the soaring arches of the University of Aberdeen’s historic Mitchell Hall, in an ingenious set built 3 to resemble a skeletal fortress, Macbeth’s epic journey from agonised . orphan, swearing revenge for his parents’ murder, through early manhood and an inability to rise above ‘the bloodlust and battle rage’ to benevolent, peace-loving King of Scotland, left the audience in no t doubt as to the true nature of the 11th i century monarch’s tragic flaw - an ‘ anger rooted deep in childhood. j
Murray Dawson gives a passionate performance as the angst-ridden childless hero, whose tender clumsiness with his wife Gruoch ' (Janie Garvie) is as touching as his bravery and honesty are inspiring. If there is any sign of Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, it is in the scheming lnjiborg, wile of weak-willed Thorfinn, Earl of Orkney, played convincingly by Shane Arthur and Doug Russell.
The combination of Gaelic and Doric tongues (used in such a way as to be understandable to an English- speaking audience) — together with eerie sound effects and the rousing battle music of pipes, fiddles, drums and whistles — creates an atmospheric
flavour of Scottish life in the Dark
And when the burly-burly is finally done, the narrator, Macbeth’s Doric- speaking mentor Arnor, sees Shakespeare off with a flea in his ear. As he concludes, his hot-headed
protege might not in a moral sense have been ‘brichter than bricht’ - but
in no way did he go ‘creepin’ aboot wi’ daggers in the nicht.’ (Judy Mackie)
. [HEI— BRILLIANT TRADES
‘ Seen at Tron, Glasgow. On tour. : In the midst of an Alaskan white-out
with ominously muffled pounding in the background, a bedraggled bride-
l on-the-run bursts into Henry llarry’s ' wooden cabin - and his hermetically
sealed lifestyle. While the hysterical Southern gal glugs on his bottle of Jim Beam and lets rip an unheralded
stream of words, he raises his head
taciturnly from under the covers.
liosannah Deluce removes her
delicate, lacy bridal slippers, now
sodden, and falls down unconscious.
Henry then cooks these ‘make-
i believe’ slippers to a crisp in a wilful
‘ act that proves significant throughout.
Cindy lou Johnson’s intense two-
hander believes in making an impact. } lt transpires that llosannah fled from the altar ‘in search of a breeze’ and
drove non-stop fro
m Arizona to Alaska. w ‘ t; .2 s is
Brilliant Traces: ‘precise plotting'
She’s in a suspended state induced by her father’s memory loss and ensuing denial of her existence, while llenry’s human-free zone is a state induced by his own buried family trauma.
Though the device of trapping two strangers within a claustrophobic space and forcing them to confront their inner demons may be a traditional one, this burning, emotional production is strictly rooted in the contemporary. The Big Themes of love, life and death are wrung through the existential strainer, the initial silences weigh long and heavy and the wild card of deep irony is played on a haphazard basis.
Undoubtedly this is a tight ship under the direction of Caroline Hall, and the precise plotting of Johnson’s script belies the characters’ scattered outpourings. Fiona Bell’s volatile Bosannah is unnervineg convincing, while Sam Graham’s llenry occasionally veers off into the realms of the overwrought. 0n the whole it’s a production that bodes well as the first offering from llall’s fledgeling company Diva. (Ann Donald)
Seen at Traverse, Edinburgh. Plays Tron, Glasgow, 11-15 Apr. Elston nupp doesn’t have a personality. Instead, he assumes other people’s, borrowing their reject clothes from his workplace, a thrift store in flew York. But he has to like the person first.
llis favourite ploy is booking holidays he has no intention of taking. That’s the only way, he reckons, he can get women to speak to him. Then he finds his perfect foil: Sarah Casey, the travel agent who's never been anywhere.
Dressed in an ill-fitting tuxedo that once belonged to a lawyer, Elston
meets Sarah in a downbeat bar on the West Side Highway. He tells her about ‘the possibility of going away’ and together they disappear into the night. Sarah is never heard of again.
The question facing the police is this: is Elston Bupp just another harmless flew York weirdo or a murderous psychopath? You can see why Sarah would want to escape: the TV-dulled mother, the bone-headed would-be fiance, the dead-end job. But to disappear without trace? And you won’t get much sense out of Elston. He’s clearly never enjoyed so much attention in his puff.
At the heart of Phyllis Nagy’s witty, fascinating play are several ideas about identity — its survival in the crush of the big city; its relationship with clothing and appearance. As Elston, Kerry Shale gives an idiosyncratic and physically precise performance, leaving us as much in the dark as Richard Bremmer’s world- weary detective, but allowing us glimpses of the lonely needs that drive his obsession. And of course Alexandra Gilbreath stands for us all when she articulates - in a convincingly drunken slur — that familiar urban craving to stamp the dust from our feet and vanish into anonymity. (Andrew Burnet)