Sisters without mercy

‘* vs

The Donahoe Sisters: compulsive reminiscence

Family get-togethers can be gruelling at the best oftimes. For the three siblings in Geraldine Aron's play The Donahue Sisters, reminiscence is less a pleasure than an irresistible urge.

When Pa Donahue falls ill. his three daughters return to modem-day rural Ireland from their respective homes: Dunya has settled in New York. Rosie in London. while Annie has stayed nearby. As they sip vodka in the attic that was once their nursery. their successful adult selves peel away, revealing three frightened girls who are driven to relive a horrific incident from their shared past.

‘It‘s like a compulsion.‘ says Sorcha Fox. who plays Dunya in Three Bags Full Theatre Company's production for l.F.U.T. ’lt’s something they have to re- enact whenever they’re together.‘ Their nonchalance is chilling one minute they are caught in their gory drama. the next bickering about who was to blame. As the play draws to a close, they plot to get even with their husbands in the nastiest way possible.

While other productions have portrayed the sisters as evil or disturbed, this one shows us three women who have survived by pretending everything’s alright. Fox says they refuse to acknowledge that they have anything in common, even their past. ‘lt's not clear whether they're proud of what they did,‘ she reflects, ‘but we‘ve tried to show three very normal women in a situation that is peculiar to this family.’

It's particularly poignant that this story is set in Ireland, a country currently grappling with the idea that its key institutions - the family and the Church - are not above suspicion. Three Bags Full‘s production draws on the best traditions of kitchen sink drama: the stiffer the upper lip and the more pinched the smile, the darker the secret behind the gritted teeth. For the Donahue sisters, the secret they hide simply will not lie quiet. (Catriona Smith)

The Donahue Sisters. Cumbernauld Theatre, Wed 4-Thurs 5 October.

War and remembrance

While most oi us were commemorating (however reluctantly) the iiitieth anniversary oi ll-day, one theatre group were slogging through rehearsals ior a play about a woman still mourning a wartime loss. Charlotte Delbo’s play Scene in Memory tells the story oi Francoise, whose husband was executed ior his work in the resistance movement. The iirst act, set in the present day, shows her recalling memories oi her husband, while the second act shows her as a younger woman saying her goodbyes to him. ‘Oiten she is quite a cold character,’ says director Lisa Ball, who is also the l.F.U.T.‘s co- ordinator. ‘She has barriers that over

the years she has iought hard to keep upright.’

Ball says she wanted to stage the play to draw attention to the suiiering oi people caught up in wars and conilicts today. She hit upon a play about a (Christian) member oi the French resistance to remind audiences that many minority groups were persecuted during the Holocaust.

Scene in Memory is a joint production by student companies irom Glasgow and Casablanca. Moroccan actor Mohammad lechgar plays the part of Paul as a Muslim-held prisoner by Christan iorces. ‘The play will show that the grieving never stops,’ says Ball.

Scot-Maroc hope to take Scene in Memory on a tour of Morocco and, eventually, to Jerusalem. Expect the pilgrim’s trail to start irom the church- like interior oi the Cottier. (Catriona Smith)

Scene in Memory, Cottier Theatre, Glasgow, Sat 7-Sun 8 October.

Greek to me

He might not be a household name. either in this country or his own. Nor does his name trip off the tongue without a struggle. but since the l960s. playwright Paris Takopoulos has been Greece‘s leading exponent of Theatre of the Absurd. He may not have had the masses screaming in the amphitheatre aisles. but he commands considerable respect from his peers, and is much revered in this country by such luvvy luminaries as Peter Hall.

Now with this British premiere of four short works. director Hara Baconiccola and her company from Athens University allow us a unique insight into the quirkiest of minds. ‘Takopoulos sees things with the air of the cosmopolitan. who knows there are few matters in the world that are truly

Angel lust

llever let it be said that the drama students oi the university oi Minho lack ambition. The production oi 0 Deseio (Desire) they’re bringing to the Cottier Theatre as part oi l.F.U.T. is periormed in Portuguese. Did somebody mention the language barrier?

‘All the companies appearing have emphasised the visual aspect,’ says Festival organiser Lisa Ball. In iact 0 Dose/o has very little dialogue, and deiines moods and characters by lighting or a change in the inilection oi a voice. Ball is adamant that audiences with a sketchy-to-non- existent understanding oi Portuguese will not miss out. ‘li you don’t understand the language, your awareness oi intonation, oi iaciai expression, is much sharper.’

The play itseli draws on Wim Wenders’ iilm Wings of Desire and Georg Biichner’s Woyzeck. An angel, llamiel, watches without emotion over an actress as her play comes to the

serious.’ says Baconiccola. a long-time champion of the writer’s work and a pioneer of performance as part of Athens University’s surprisingly theory-dominated theatre course.

In lac/unatzozm. a professor growls his way through an interview before beating the reporter to death. after a lengthy diatribe on the state ofthe western world. Around the World in [fight Minutes, meanwhile, is a mile- high travelogue. a non-stop. in-flight comic commentary on matters political. religious. sexual and ethical.

‘He also deals with the whole notion of Greekness.‘ according to Angeliki Kassola. a Greek native and l.F.U.T.‘s artistic director. ‘The dominant tradition in Greece is realism, so the writers tend to be quite stereotypical of what Greek concerns are. Takopoulos subverts that. both linguistically and politically.‘ (Neil Cooper)

The Theatre of Paris Takopoulos, University of Athens. Arches Theatre. Thurs 5—Fri 6 Oct.

0 Deseio: A pessimistic view oi angels end oi its run. While she tools a sense oi loss and contemplates her next move, llamiel, watching her, begins to wonder about human pleasures.

“The play takes a pessimistic view oi angels,’ say Ball. ‘They are shown as ignorant aliens, with no heart and no ieelings.’ llamiel wants to reach out and touch the world, but can only do so by manipulating a human. liow doesn’t he sound human after all? (Catriona Smith) .

0 Dose/o (Desire) Cottier Theatre, Glasgow, 7 Oct.


The lntemationai Festival oi University Theatre runs Sun 1-Sun 8 October.

Most periormances are iollowed by open discussions. There are also workshops led by visiting companies at all participating venues. For times and ticket prices, see under venues in main theatre listings.

I les Annees Vélos (The Bicycle Years) Theatre Universitaire International de Dijon (France). Using texts from Jacques Prevert. Serge Gainsbourg and Boris Vian. as well as the ve’los themselves. to take the audience on a mood-shifting Gallic journey through themes of love. war and peace. Cumbernauld Theatre.

I Los Celos (Jealousy) and other plays Fernando Arrabel/Grupo de Teatro Universitario de Granada (Spain).

Three short pieces by Spain's leading playwright of the 60s, which explore the role of women under the macho fascist regime of Franco. Cottier Theatre.

I Community Perionnance lu & Orr (Germany). The culmination of a week of workshops led by Munich University's ltt & Ott company, this show will be performed by members of Glasgow‘s community. Instead of a text, the initial inspiration is taken from the painting Triptych by Scots artist Ken Currie. Pearce Institute.

I 0 Deseio (Desire) Teatro Universitario do Minho (Portugal). See preview. Cottier Theatre.

I The Donahue Sisters Geraldine Aron/ Three Bags Full Theatre Company (Eire). C umbernauld Theatre.

I Easy Nicola McCartney/Lookout Theatre Company (Scotland/N. Ireland). Previously seen at both Mayfest and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, this hard- hitting play examines the complex issues surrounding date rape. Cumbernauld Theatre.

I illub Frantic Theatre Company (Wales). A devised show about the rave culture from a young. energetic company whose work at the Edinburgh Fringe in this and earlier shows has been much praised. Cottier Theatre.

I The Mask/The Asylum Lithuanian Academy of Music (Lithuania). Two intenseand humorous devised shows which celebrate the cultural liberation of the former Soviet state in the post- Communist era. Arches Theatre.

I The Palmist Mohamed Lechgar/ Artifact Theatre Company (Morocco). A multi-media performance challenging the oppressive educational system, and so outraged the authorities that it cost the participants their degrees. Arches Theatre. I to Projecteur Reparé The Bewitched Projector Karl Valentinfl‘héatre Universitaire Liegeois (Belgium). A farcical satire about the way theatrical practice has become institutionalised. and the internal conflicts this has led to. Glasgow Uni versity Drama Studio.

I The Proposal Anton Chekhov/ltt & Ott Theatre Company (Germany). Chekhov's early, vaudeville comedy is given a fresh interpretation by this company based in Munich. Glasgow University Drama Studio.

I Scene in Memory Charlotte Delbo/ Scot-Maroc Productions (Scotland/ Morocco). See preview. Glasgow University Drama Studio.

I Song oi Songs Jerzy Grotowski/ University of Plymouth (England). An interdisciplinary approach is taken by this cross-cultural company, which is making daring use of work by the Polish master of gruelling experimental theatre. Pearce Institute.

I The Theatre oi Paris Takopoulos Paris Takopoulos/University of Athens (Greece). See preview. Arches Theatre.

I Trust Me! Glasgow University (Scotland). See preview. Cottier Theatre.

The List 22 Sept-5 Oct 1995 55