STONES AND ASHES
Traverse Theatre. lit/inlmrg/t. until Sun [2 November
Four individuals stranded at the end of the century: Clermont. who's lled Montreal. the scene of his wife‘s violent death. hardened almost to stone by grief; Pascale. his gawky teenage daughter. teetering on the threshold of adulthood; Shirley. a young woman trying to shrug off the reckless loyalties of adolescence; and Coco. the leader of her gang. a man who loathes hope for its pact with disappointment. an embittered Peter Pan refusing to grow up. When Clermont and Pascale arrive by chance in Shirley and Coco‘s remote village. a catastrophe is set in motion which exposes them all to fresh wounds.
Quebecois writer Daniel Danis‘ award-winning play. translated into lively Scots by Tom McGrath. has a story of passion and horror to tell. but does so in a remarkably undramatic way. Although a number of events are enacted before our eyes — the clearest example is the developing love affair between Clermont and Shirley — most are relayed in monologue. each character‘s perspective contributing obliquely to a four-dimensional account. The storytelling is further distanced by time: all this. we are told. happened several years ago. Rich in fiery poetry and vivid anecdote as the script is. its length. structure and psychological complexity are such that it's a slow burn to the payoff.
In a well cast production for the
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Traverse company. with Tam Dean Burn and John Kazek particularly strong in the male roles. Ian Brown makes the most of Danis and McGrath‘s linguistic energy but it‘s not until the story reaches its searing climax that the play‘s real dramatic force becomes apparent. (Andrew Burnet)
A MAN WITH CONNECTIONS
Seen at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 7-Sat 11 November.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. This is the maxim in an economic system where bungs and backhanders are second nature it you want to get on. Andrei and Natasha have been living happily olt this institutionalised corruption tor years, but when Andrei’s blind ambition inadvertently causes their son to lose his hands, the cracks in their
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relationship start to gape. Over one heart-rending night they slug it out, with all the unseltconscious domestic minutiae of long-term relationships intact.
Played in real time, Perth Bep’s touring revival of Alexander Gelman’s play (first seen on these shores in 1988) taps into the couple’s volatile emotional lite with a brave acting style rarely seen in the UK. No holds are barred by Kenneth Bryans and Irene Macdougal throughout a gruelling 150 minutes. They spar with a repressed lury that spills over into all-out war as the stakes, both public and personal, are raised.
Dominic Hill’s restaging of Russian director Vadim Radun’s original production is a tad technically overtussy at times, but the couple’s overall sense of pain and loss is kept well to the lore. Alongside the domestic lallout, though, there’s an expose of a society (not just Russia) so rotten that human compassion is all but negated in tavour ot opportunism and greed. We might have had the horrors of Thatcher, but some people had it a whole lot worse. (Neil Cooper)
THEY'RE PLAYING OUR SONG
Seen at Htldt/lllglnll 'Iim'n Hull. On tour.
Music can capture a moment like nothing else. and has provided the soundtrack to many a line romance. Neil Simon's bittersweet two-hander
takes this idea to its logical end as Vernon. an established Broadway composer. is forced into creative partnership with Sonia. a space-cadet lyricist for whom he falls despite himself. Sweet music is made at the Steinway. though in the love stakes things are decidedly off-key. All that‘s left for Vernon are his ex's initials on the towels. while Sonia‘s on-off liaison with the lingering Leon looks set to run and run. Happy endings win out though. and by the final number Vernon and Sonia are in perfect harmony.
Robin Peoples' slick production captures the glitz of Broadway despite the small scale of things. We move from batchelor pad to loft to beach house with ease as Neil Simon's typically wry Stateside banter is punctuated by Marvin Hamlisch and Carol Bayer Sager's appropriately schmaltzy numbers.
David Goodall and Maria Miller as the oddest of couples keep the froth fizzing at a cracking pace. Miller in particular is a dizzy bundle of kookiness whose hyperactive shambles of a life comes on like Annie Hall‘s kid sister. Though not nearly so big of voice. David Goodall‘s boy-next-door charm wins out over technical expertise. and he tinkles the ivories with a velvet touch.
Though it might not change the world, Simon‘s play is a refreshing alternative to more high-minded theatrical excursions. What it offers instead is old-fashioned feelgood fun which proves once and for all that music really is the food of love. (Claire Prentice)
GO The List 3-16 Nov I995