A member of One Yellow Rabbit ona recent visit to Bonnybridge
‘In space.‘ it is said. ‘no one can hear you scream.‘ And just as well. According to some researchers. one million people have been whisked away by aliens in America alone. Can you imagine the racket that would make'.’
Inspired by revelations like this. Canadian theatre company One Yellow Rabbit arrives in Scotland this week with a multi-media exploration of UFO culture. Alien liar! centres on four confused and disturbed individuals recounting their personal stories of alien abduction to experts at a UFO convention.
Do you read me . . .
j ‘The performance follows their experience. and through this. we have set out to explore current thinking on E the topic.‘ says director Blake Brooker. : who co-wrote the piece with Michael
; Green. ‘it is also a theatrical study of
; human trauma which is still humorous.‘ i For the curious. alien abduction has a ! CE rating of 4 (a Close Encounter of
f the fourth kind). pipping Speilbcrg's
I CE3 (seeing an alien) and runner-up to § fearless CES (personally instigating an alien encounter).
to have been taken.‘ continues Brooker. ‘and we hope to create a little more alien consciousness here. because there is a lot of this stuff going on.‘
gllrerr Boll developed from Green's
j ‘personal fetish' for the subject. uses a sampled soundtrack and projections to ; maximise the impact of material which Brooker believes is now ‘almost
; folklore' in the west. ‘We wanted to
l create a very rich environment and
' really splash this subject onto the stage.’ he continues. ‘xlllen Bull is fun. 5 but should also challenge the audience in a good way.‘ Even if the material is unfamiliar territory. the company has an appealing physical style. Previous Scottish visits
given the recent spate of UFO sightings. this is the most topical to date. ‘Space calling Bonnybridge. ()ne Yellow Rabbit seeks permission to land. Do you read me Bonnybridge'.’ I" (Patti Welsh) Alien Bail. ()ne Yellow Rub/m. Tron
l . . . I have been equally idiosyncratic. but
: Theatre. Glasgow. (Hi/ll Sun 22 ()('l()/)(’I',' 'l'mve/zse 'l'lteulre. Edinburgh. We’ll 25—321! 28 ()t‘lolwri 'Iitr'rt lo page
} I'lfor More UFO-related lt't’ll'tfllt’.\‘.\‘.
The recent trend of women-led plays in Scottish theatre is set to continue with The Seal Wife, the latest production by Stellar Guines theatre company. Written by Sue Glover, author of the award-winning play Bondagers (revived by two Scots companies in the past few months), The Seal Wlfe is inspired by the Scottish folk legend of the Silkies, or ‘Seal People’. The play attempts to unravel the relationship between humans and their environment, using a mixture of poetry, humour and suspense.
Stellar Guines was founded in 1993 with the aim of combining the energy and experience of some of the most prominent women in Scottish theatre: its debut production, flight Sky, toured Scotland last year. The latest project is directed by Gerda Stevenson, one of the company’s founder members. As Stevenson explains, this collaboration with Glover came about by chance. ‘An actress friend suggested I read the play. i thought it was really beautiful. It’s an unusual play in many respects - it’s rare to get such a cast of mature women, and to see that onstage is really exciting.’
Stevenson is one of Scotland’s busiest actresses at present; recently she directed the first-ever Gaelic
Wet and windswept: Gerda Stevenson starring in the film Blue Black Permanent
feature for the BBC’s Tartan Shorts series, and toured with Communicado in A Place with the Pigs. She is also familiar to cinema audiences, most recently appearing as Mel Gibson’s mother-in-law in Braveheart. She spent five weeks last summer filming in Glen Nevis, and confesses to enjoying the experience enormously. ‘Mel has a tremendously warm and open personality,’ she says. ‘He has the ability to create a sense of team spirit by making everyone feel special, which is quite an achievement for someone who’s a megastar.’ (Siobhan Donnelly)
The Seal Wife, Stellar auines, Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh, Wed 1—Sat 4
November; then touring.
‘ln most major US cities. people claim
The Caucasian Chalk Circle: Jimmy Chisholm and Russell Hunter give it their bst shot,
THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE
Royal Lyceum. lz'tlr'rrl)rrr;q/1. (HI/ll Sol 4 Nove/rrlrer:
Bertolt Brecht's study ofjustice and civil upheaval has a collectivist tone well suited to the communal spirit of the Lyceum‘s resident company. Based on an ancient Chinese folktale (but framed by a commentary on socialist infighting that is thoroughly modern) the main plot concerns (iruschc. a
young peasant woman who rescues and I
raises the despot‘s son. vs ho‘s been abandoned during a revolution. After many tribulations and much self- sacrifice. she is forced into a struggle for custody when the heartless real mother rctums to power.
It’s a classic set-up for a morality play. but Brecht's take on morality has more to do with decent pragmatism than any set code of values. This rough and ready approach to doing the right thing is personified in Azdak. the shoddy village clerk who finds himselfelected to the judge's chair. and dispenses a justice which —- though decidedly corrupt — seems to satisfy everyonc's needs.
Putting the Bill! in Brechtian. the show ;
but Brecht comes out on top
; begins with the houselights up and the
j cast milling about on a bare stage. but
? Gerard h’lut'phy‘s vigorous production
I. gradually draws its audience into the
i play‘s gritty. theatrical mix of comedy,
drama and polemic. Crucial to his
approach is the involvement of as many
, of the cast as much of the time as
' possible. This. together with Will llargreaves‘s colourful costumes. masks. layered stagecloths and sets
creates a lively. organic atmosphere
; which owes more to the dressing-up
3 box than the theatrical outfitter.
l Similarly. Stephen Warbcck and James
Bryce's simple but effective settings for Brecht‘s earthy lyrics. mostly sung in
chorus. allow for some decidedly
With Russell Hunter and Jimmy Chisholm in full comedic spate. the show teeters dangerously (ifen_joyably) close to slapstick at times. but Louise (iold's dignified Uruschc and solid work from the ensemble keep Brecht's surprisingly moving message well
‘ supported. it‘s true that the second half f drags a little Peter Kelly seems
somewhat overburdened in the dual role of the narrator Arkadi and Azdak -— but the dramatic vivacity that‘s tnade the play one of Breclit‘s best—known emerges buoyantly from every scene. (Andrew Burnet)
[HEREI— LOVE, JULIE
Seen at King’s Theatre, Edinburgh. At King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Mon 23—Sat 28 October. The moment you set eyes on the open- plan brick surround and breakfast bar set that could have jumped out of your favourite soap, you just know you’re in Australia. Mid-life emigré Julie’s time is taken up with adolescent offspring, taped letters home and seeming domestic bliss. When Gail, the footloose and fancy-free chatterbox from next door, bustles into her life, things are all but perfect, but then Julie stumbles across her husband’s infidelity, and her world looks set to fall apart. Yet Gail’s been-there, done- that support gives Julie enough confidence to pick herself up and get back on the dating and mating trail as she makes a brand new life for herself.
One of a spate of plays rather
unwiser being marketed as ‘the new
Shirley Valentine’, Love, Julie’s main attraction is its starry, two-handed cast of Millicent Martin and Anne Charleston, aka Madge, Kylie’s old dear on Neighbours. Both are endearing and engaging enough, but one can’t help but feel they’re selling both themselves and the audience short.
Writer Patrick Edgeworth’s roots are in Aussie television (he also wrote the film BMX Bandits, kitsch fans), and it shows. Flashes of his script look like going beyond cartoon land and wrenching real pathos from proceedings, but it cops out every time in favour of soft option gag- making that will cause nobody, least of all the audience, any harm.
However, if this largely optimistic approach can give voice to a generation of frustrated housewives with nothing to lose but their chains, then you can’t really knock it. Buy tickets for your Auntie Florrie on her Silver Wedding anniversary and watch your Uncle Ernie squirm. (Neil Cooper)
52 The List 20 Oct-2 Nov 1995