mm— Asylum! Asylum!
Seen at Traverse Theatre. Edinburgh. On tour.
Fleeing his Ugandan home. where he‘s been forced to participate in his father's execution. Joseph Omara arrives in lreland seeking refugee status. Out of
the burning pit. into the fiery zeal of Dublin's immigration service. he‘s ? detained pending an investigation. Finding welts and bruises on Joseph's arms. immigration officer Leo Gaughan gets the heehie-jeebies and enlists his sister Mary as ()mara's lawyer. When their father Bill invites the refugee into his home. and a relationship springs up between Joseph and Mary (pun intended). the political conflict gives way to an altogether more personal family drama.
Donal ()‘Kelly's play centres on the increasing itupenetrability of Fortress Europe. the possibility of burying truth. x and above all the personal crisis of I asylumosceking. ()tuara is a complex. flawed character whose bond with his lather — like Leo's with Bill ~ hinges on a single poetic image. His interaction
V. I. 5"." ‘1‘,“ .. Ebullient: David Baker in Asylum! Asylum! with the Gaughans has profound and wrenching consequences for all concerned. it's an intense. perceptive and surprisingly witty drama.
Sadly. Kenneth Glenaan's production for Wiseguise suffers from an
unaccountable sterility. David Baker is f ebullient as ()mara. side-stepping the
pitfalls of playing the victim. but
conveying little sense of trauma and
vulnerability. Phil McCall. Laurie
Ventry and especially Anne Marie v Timoney give assured. tough ‘ performances as the Gaughans. but the
damaged familial bonds aren't
' adequately explored. and too often throat-rasping shouts are substituted for real passion. A disappointing outing.
given the credentials of all parties
involved. (Andrew Burnet)
manna:— The collection
Seen at Tron Theatre. Glasgow. At Traverse Theatre. Edinburgh until 21 May.
Rarely does a piece of theatre bowl one over with such verve and mastery as to highlight the deanh of exciting new drama. This is Mike (The Cut) Cullen‘s second work and is set in the seedy. often brutal world ofa Scottish financial adviser‘s (read debt collector‘s) office. Big man Bob Lawson‘s relationship with a client precipitates not only a suicide. but a twisted and lethal exploration of the failings of human communication and the ‘l‘m-altight-Jack‘ mentality ofthe l980s.
Given the ovenvhelmingly testosterone-laden atmosphere. the delving into the machinations of the male power structure. the fast-talking.
: boys' club competitiveness and ruthless
misogyny. comparisons with David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross were inevitable. Yet if Mamet is to be used as a totem then his controversial play ()leanna also finds strong echoes here. For the macho swagger and psyche is set against an investigation of female
Forcing the issue: Kenneth Bryans and Pauline
Knowles in The Collection sexual power. impotence and the minefield of contemporary sexual politics.
Cullen has succeeded magnificently in writing a play that positively sparks with brutal humour. Its spiky colloquial dialogue bats to and fro with the speed of a squash game and is executed. in lan Brown's production for the Traverse company. by an excellent cast. (Ann Donald)
mmr— % BLOOD AND ICE
Bamshorn Theatre, Glasgow until 6 May
Shelley and Byron’s literary and hedonistic lifestyle is the stuff modern writers’ wet dream scenes are made of. But Liz Lochhead’s early play, here presented by Strathclyde Theatre Group, focuses instead on Mary Shelley, as important a literary figure as either man, and an axis for both. Like the two other women in the play, though, Mary is marginalised by male whim, on the grounds of pregnancy, desertion, or simply having the gall to better oneself.
Fiona Walton’s production is a simple but effective affair, played out on a bare stage upon which the two poets strut about, flexing their literary love muscles and scoring semantic points off each other. The monster of Mary’s imagination paces in the background like a caged animal or an expectant lather, goading Mary, whom he calls Frankenstein throughout, as she recalls the night he was first conceived.
Stephen McCreadie is all but explosive as The Creature, while .lo Menzer’s quirky expressiveness captures Mary, gentle in spite of herself, in all her sense of loss and moumlng. In the end, when Mary’s babies of all ages are dead, all that lives on is The Creature. That and the memories of the nights of elemental
passion it first sprang from. (lleil .
GHEKHOV - THREE ABSURD COMEDIES
Arches Theatre, Glasgow, until Friday 12th May. Chekhov’s sense of humour, often
missed in productions of his tragedies,
5 has a much more in-your-face quality in these short vaudevilles presented
by The Arches Theatre Company. Farce, anarchy and slapstick sprinkle a lively evening’s entertainment.
First up, The Bear, sees Smirnov (Andrew Oallmeyer), a bad-tempered misogynist-ltomantic coming to claim an old debt from a snivellingly melodramatic widow. In The Proposal, a nervous, hilariously twitchy Lomcv (Andy Arnold) attempts to propose to a fellow landowner’s daughter, falling helplessly into a sea of petty arguments. The Wedding, a shotgun occasion, is charged with drunken discussions about electricity, and features a rambling visiting speaker organised by a conniving spiv.
The evening generally accelerates in pace and quality, successfully illustrating silly hypocrisies and circularity of behaviour, though timing does slip occasionally. The Bear is least comfortable in this respect, The Proposal funniest with its trio scenes, while The Wedding is rich in individual touches. The caricaturing sometimes makes you wonder whether you are in
g a Mike Leigh rehearsal or at The
Ministry of Funny Walks, but there are
: several cringeingly good
performances, especially from Andy Arnold. However, Andrew Oallmeyer’s talented presence stands out, a mixture of everything from Salvador Ball to an upper class Ken Oodd. A laugh a minute. (Peter Kimpton)
Seen at Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow. On tour.
! Wildcat and its founding co-writers
Dave Anderson and David MacLennan are back with a rollicking musical farce that sends up Scottish politics
as being full of tartan charlatans and carpetbaggers.
Suitcases are exchanged accidentally, containing Swedish porn, purloined ministerial files and a Nationalist bomb. This provokes much entering and exiting, involving cross- dressing when Labour parliamentary hopeful, Tony Bland, disguised as a woman to increase his chances of success, turns up at the wrong (Tory) selection committee interviews. Strange to say, Tony finds much in
, common with one-nation Tory, Elspeth
Campell-Baxter, who actually turns out to be his mum. Elspeth sings as an explanation: ‘I was seduced by a family friend in 1962.’
Open this can and instead of worms
1 it’s an innocuous alphabet soup. ls
that the point Wildcat are making? The piece uses two foreign chamber- maids to echo the clichés of our political and sexual culture. The cliches are so piled up that ‘Scottishness’ becomes translucent. Not since llarry Lauder has tartan been used so effectively to show us what we definitely are HOT! The show promises a good night out to the converted, which allows it to simmer with a 101 varieties of Scottish self- loathing. Ultimately though, in Wildcat’s uncomplicated hall of mirrors there is no distinction made between parties - so there’s something for everyone! (Ronan O’Oonnell)
E11135!- eonu cuurv
Seen at Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow. On tour.
7:84’slatest proiect Born Guilty presented the company with two major challenges. Firstly, there was the formal problem of transforming the interviews documented in Peter
Sichrovsky’s books (Born Guilty, Strangers in their Own Land and lncurably German) into a workable theatrical production. Secondly, the subject matter - which focuses on latter-day Germans and their feelings about the Second World War - demanded a rigorous approach to allow as many perspectives as possible to be examined . i In an attempt to meet these challenges, 7:84 extended their usual rehearsal period from four to eight weeks and enlisted the help of German ‘dramaturg’ Rainer Lau. The experiment has paid off handsomely.
In Born Guilty, each cast member (all similarly attired in grey costumes) gives voice to a different character — | a racist teenager, the gay son of llazi | parents, a Jewish policeman - and ’ thus a different viewpoint on how to deal with Gennany’s past in present- day Europe.
These individual stories are punctuated with the legend of Oedipus, who unknowingly fulfilled the prophecy that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother. Like Oedipus, today’s Germans are ‘born guilty’ and must carry the inheritance of their birth like a burden they’re incapable of shedding.
The actors are well cast and impressively strong, working tightly together as a team. Iain lteekie’s direction and Vanessa Smith’s choreography are equally slick and the German songs and dances which intersperse the stories take on a heightened significance as the play progresses.
Born Guilty ultimately succeeds not because it supplies any easy answers but because it asks a lot of difficult questions in a production that is an intelligent, well-structured and provocative piece of theatre. (Cathryn
68 The List 5-18 May 1995