Perplexed: laurance lldlc as lanark ;

It was always going to be diiiicult dragging Alasdair Gray’s intoxicating, epic novel Lanark oii the page and onto the stage. Its sheer scale, encompassing everything irom the minutiae oi adolescent angst to the apocalyptic iate oi humankind, is enough to take any theatre director’s breath away.

TAG Theatre Company has tackled the novel head on, deciding not to be overwhelmed by its weight - all 561 pages oi it, iour decades in the making. This is a brave attempt to capture the essence oi a book that sucks you in and swats you irom one scene to the next, beiore spitting you out. It almost works.

The austere setting oi the Assembly hall, where the Church oi Scotland shapes its future, makes a suitable backdrop ior Gray’s dark, claustrophobic work. Playwright Alastair Cording has lovingly pared

away Gray’s intense, descriptive

. passages, relying on dialogue to

: convey Cray’s themes oi love,

? alienation and loneliness, Cod and

1 creation and the isolated individual \ pitted against the state.

The novel’s unchronological

I structure is neatly swept up by a tight ; script and welded together by Alastair ' - Cording’s direction and a disturbing

operatic score. Tom Smith is

wonderiully iniuriating and often

iunny as Duncan Thaw, an art school student tortured by his inability to communicate with women, his

3 teachers and the human race

generally. Laurence liudic is a convincing, it slightly mind-mannered Lanark, obsessed by his search ior peace and ireedom. But there is

something missing.

It is hard to know whether having read lanark enhances or hinders enjoyment oi the play, but knowing the basics undoubtedly helps unravel a complex, sometimes obscure plot. Those who were overwhelmed by the book, be prepared to be disappointed, especially at the play’s lack oi a sense oi geography - the novel’s

Glasgowness is severely diluted and

the production is weakened as a result. Perhaps seeing TAG’s Lanark with an open mind is the best approach, however tricky. (Kathleen Morgan)

Lanark (Festival) TAG Theatre Company, Assemny Ila/I, 225 5756, 18/19;22—27 Aug, 7.30pm, £5-£14.

Arches Theatre Com an

by David Mamet

The Gilded Balloon 233 Cowgaie, Edinburgh

I I-26ih August at 4.00pm daily Tickets:OI3I-22i-2151/226-5257

"Great night. Great play...Truly excellent comic aciing'- Evening Times "hysterically Funny..” The Herald

Tania lacy: all woman


Tania Lacy keeps up a full on. fast forward barrage of very funny observations on men. ciggies. booze. food. men and more ciggies while strutting across the stage in black leather. lycra undies and a baby doll nightie.

She covers much of the same ground as other women stand-ups. but it‘s her unabashed vulgarity and self-deprecating look at the narcissistic personal obsessions plaguing today‘s world that‘s fresh. Whether grabbing her crotch. swigging vodka or brandishing a huge cucumber suggestively

under the nose of a man in

the front row. Lacy’s obvious enjoyment makes behaving badly totally infectious. (Gill Roth)

I One Woman Show Tania Lacy. Fringe Club (Venue 2) 226 5138. until 8 Sept (not 21). 7.30pm. £6.50 (£5.50).


Gordon Dallas and Jem Packer have built up a comfortable rapport since their days in the Bri Nylon Five. an Edinburgh University revue group. Now as organisers and comperes of the Comedy Slop. they return to the

Fn'nge with their own


The Dallas and Packer style is so casual in its delivery you begin to wonder if they ever rehearse. There are no narrative jokes. punch lines or comic routines in their brand of surreal

humour. instead. they

unleash a kind of

nonsensical babbling

stream of foolishness that washes over you and covers anything from fur

balls and philosophers to

onion breath. (Gill Roth)

I Dallas and Packer

(Fringe) Chaplaincy

Centre (Venue 23) 650

8201. until 2 Sept.

I 6.15pm. £5 (£3.50).

until 2 Sept (not 30).


Sheela-na-gig. an ancient female. masturbating stone carving is the starting point and role model for a menopausal irishwoman who is an alcohol counsellor by day. Exuding a certain laid- back confidence. she takes the sit-down. Dave Allen approach to comedy. but her show packs as much punch as the strutting style of most male stand- ups.

The hypocrisy and arrogance of the Catholic Church. sex education. D. H. Lawrence and the Bible are targeted and shown no mercy as she illustrates her arguments with a novelty penis. a pair of high heels and some gloriously technicolour male pin- ups. (Gill Roth)

I Sheela-lla-Cig Calton Centre (Venue 119). 477 7170. until 2 Sept (not

20). 6pm. £4.50 (£3.50).



Barcelona‘s clown trio Marcelinc l Sylvestre tip their hats to tradition with banana skins. rubber chickens and neverending neckties. but spice up standard routines by juggling with an amplified drum and wonky dancing. The short vignettes veer in and out of inventiveness. with pleasing surprises like Marceline‘s brief polka-dotted. false-teethed flamenco on green platforms. and the sexiest stick-rubbing. cake- topped jig I‘ve seen. Sylvestre’s performance finesse far outshines that of his cohorts and his extraordinarily graceful three-legged dance is alone worth the admission price. A potentially funny vacuum-cleaner sequence gets trite and by the hour's end. i welcomed the light of day. but still a pleasant diversion for kids and adults. (Lynn Keating) I iihapsodla in Clown (Fringe) The Pleasance (Venue 33) '556 6550.

6.50pm. £7/6 (£6/5).


Two overgrown kids. two microphones. virtually no props and absolutely no limits on the imagination are good foundations to build a show on. For those who missed them last year. Aussie duo The

- [DEED- wssr

Umbilical Brothers mime out tights. chases. cartoon scenes and yet more fights. illustrating each vignette with the most astonishing range of self- produced sound effects. it sounds simple but requires immaculate timing to match the noise to the action and they do it superbly. Childish. inventive. hilarious and with an all new show this pair will leave you dying with laughter. lfthey don’t. you must be coffin fodder already. (Jonathan Trew) I lleaven By Sionn (Fringe) The Umbilical Brothers. Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2l51. until 2 Sept (not IS. 29). 7pm. £6.50 (£5.50).


This was three of a very different kind. John Butler certainly makes a better compere than he does a stand-up. for although his act is pleasant. there is little tantalisineg original about it. Similarly. Josephine Enright is no Tracey Ullman. but she gets better as she relaxes with her working class childhood and feminine dilemma material.

The real find of this trio is the exotically-named Andy Robinson. Gangly. bouncy and teeming with great material. he plays off the audience like an old hand and should certainly be playing on a bigger stage. He could be Chic Murray with his coy double entendres. but the fact he‘s 25. from Birmingham and alive suggests he isn‘t. (Philip Dorward)

I West Midlands Serious Comedy Squad Are West

Midlands Serious Comedy Squad (Fringe) Gilded

Serious comedy squaddle

48 The List l8-24 Aug 1995