Barred sets ;
, Royal Lyceum. Edinburgh. tutti! Sat 2 December.
. Even without taking the interval into ; account. Kenny Ireland's brisk but
lavish production is a Hamlet oftwo halves. On one hand. there is excellence. such as Mattwa Scott‘s
; eerie music and Robin Don‘s magniﬁcent design. centred around a
Reckless Sleepers: enclosed space cadets When applied to theatre. the word organic is too often an excuse for half- formed ideas to be chucked onto a stage in all their shainbolit: glory. Yet two companies playing the Assembly alive! season seem to he doing it right.
Reckless Sleepers' two productions. Parasite and lit Speak and Not lie Heard both came to life during workshop residencies. a process director Mole Wetherill sees as an essential starting point for their pritnarily visual work.
‘I think we're trying to look at different languages. and different ways of communicating things.’ says \Vcthcrill. ‘For lo Speak, we told each other 30 or 40 stories about each other before choosing one. then deconstructing it and re—inventiug it.‘
The performance space itself was the starting point for Parasite. which takes place in a tiny wooden room where fragments of a murder are vicioust reconstructed. To enhance the claustrophobia to optimum effect. the audience is limited to 25 per sitting.
For their show. .lliriu'les. Elysian Fields Productions have also taken an enclosed space. The setting is a shop at Hatthill on the MS. where the survivors of a nuclear disaster seek shelter. ‘Nuclear convoys pass along British roads all the time.’ says writer Kathy Galloway. who initiated the project with director Colin Gray. "l‘here have been incidents. and l wondered What would happen if the convoy from Faslane was involved in one.‘
Characters were developed via improvisations. which Galloway moulded into a script. A work-in-progress was presented at Tramway in I992 . Miracles looks at the i nature of transformation and explores exactly what miracles are. ‘We becatne ! interested in ritual and ceremony as ' very basic things in which pCOplC re- invent themselves.‘ explains Galloway.
Both companies are aware of the hybrid nature oftheir work. "Theatre people think we‘re performance art. and performance art people think we're theatre.‘ says Wetherill. while Galloway is happy to share responsibility. ‘ln a way‘. she says. ‘it's wrong to describe tne as the writer. l’in just the recorder.‘ (Neil Cooper) Miracles. Elysian Fields Productions 3 Mon 20 and Tue 21 November; l Parasite. Reckless Sleepers. Wed 22 November: To Speak and Not Be ; Heard. Reckless Sleepers. Thurs 23 November: All at Assembly Rooms. Edinburgh as part o/‘dssetnbly alive.’ .
3 steeply raked tongue of bare boards. , overhung by a drooping belly of ; skycloth and stocked with ingenious
Many of the supporting performances are equally inspired. including Matthew Pidgeon s ticry Lac-Hes. Russell
Hunter's Ulllltts‘lty Polonius. Max
Gold's stalwart Horatio. Louise
- lronside's poignant Ophelia. Jimmy
Chisholm‘s show-stealing comic turns
and Eric Bai‘low's clutch of significant
minor roles. Though not strictly
present. Brian Cox's Ghost is also worthy of mention -- as much for its hi- tcch staging as for Cox‘s lowering
intonements. Among the principals. Ann Louise
Ross makes a hold. sexy. vell spoken
c .r’l’. . i. 5 Mother love: Tom McGovern and Ann Louise Ross in Hamlet
Gertrude; but sadly Sean Baker's fussy.
- insubstantial portrayal of Claudius
simply doesn't carry enough of the imperious weight the part demands. A flawed gent. yes; but not a conniving. guilt—ridden murderer. seducer and usurper. Straddling this divide is Tom McGovern. the than who carries in the title role a burden of responsibility as unshakable as the princes nightcd
colour. McGovern is clearly — and
understandably ~ aware of this. which
may account for the uncomfortable
’ tension he exhibits on the opening night. With an alarmingly hunched posture (not aided by the alpine rake or the highsheeled boots). he scuttlcs
about like a spider. spitting his lines out
with an excess of gesture and too little resonance. This effectively excludes the audience frotn the intimacy of the
first few soliloquics. which should
enable us to warm to hint and share iii
i his plight. In his efforts to sustain a galloping pace. hc tramplcs the character's vulnerability. leaving us with little to like about the wretched l):lt‘~t'.
it's igtcat i'clicl. tractor"
lltal blc‘kidvtll: returns after that crucial interval palpably more relaxed. the second half. with its relentless tutnble towards the fatal ducl of the final scene. becomes a much more charged and moving aflair than the first. and to a large degree this can be attributed to McGovetn's greatly improved delivery and presence. l hope he brings the same qualities of subtlety. energy and Iikcability to the whole play in future performances. (Andrew Burnct)
f LOOK BACK IN ANGER
Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 9 December.
' John Osborne’s prototype kitchen-sink
drama, credited with revolutionising British theatre when it first appeared in 1956, is often seen as a class-war
- diatribe so firmly rooted in its era that
it’s effectively a period piece. This
; production’s director and designer Kenny Miller is having none of that.
With a bold, multi-coloured setting that suggests no particular decade, he
' does not so much emphasise its
relevance to the 903 as promote its
‘ universal theme. Though seldom
; referred to by name, love is the play’s ' driving force - it’s the only power
strong enough to contain the still-
brutality of the central relationship between the impossibly rancorous
, Jimmy Porter and his beleagured wile
Alison. Without love, she’d have the
: good sense to leave him halfway
through the first scene, and there wouldn’t be a play. Without love, the
; other players - loyal, simple-minded
Cliff, demure, calculating Helena and
t Alison’s decent but bewildered father
— would have no reason to appear. Miller draws out this theme to the
lull, adding ambiguity to Alison’s ' relationship with Cliff; and removing it
from Helena’s intentions towards Jimmy. The play is flawed, mostly by overwriting; and the updating sometimes trips up - joints just don’t work as a substitute for Jimmy’s stinky pipe - but the claustrophobic space of the Citizens’ Circle Studio is
ideal, and the cast - Paul Albertson’s % writhing, whining, acerbic but
strangely likeablo Jimmy, Juliet Welch’s achineg weary Alison, Brendan Hooper’s warm, hamsterish Cliff and Andrea Hart’s cool, assured
1 Helena - preserve the perfect : disharmony with relish. (Andrew
ERIE!— THE SEAL WIFE
Seen at Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh. On tour.
When Rona runs naked and mysteriously injured from the sea, seal-hunter Alec takes her back to his mother’s house, where love blooms quickly in spite of local gossip. However, when Alec reneges on his promise to quit his unpleasant profession, Hana disappears as
suddenly as she arrived, leaving Alec
quite literally holding the baby.
Set in a small Fife town whose population seem to be varying degrees of barking, Sue Glover’s play is rooted in the myth of the Silkies, or ‘seal people’, and their influence on affairs both domestic and romantic. Though more formal than her hit Bondagers, it has a similar linguistic beauty and sensitivity, though it sadly lacks the better-known play’s locus.
After a vivid and tantalising opening, the piece becomes blurred and schematic, revealing itself as an unconvincingly dusted-down early work. The second act in particular is something of a guddle. with characters being introduced too late for their function to become clear.
Having said that, Gerda Stevenson’s production for Stellar Duines is impeccable, played out imaginatively
on Karen Tennant’s ramshackle set by
a vintage, primarily female cast, whose collective experience brings a rare weight to proceedings. Yet this strength of conviction can’t prevent things from descending into quasi- mystical mince.
There’s no disputing the power of the poetry on display, but things need to be made explicit instead of merely alluded to. Why, for instance, are Alec,
his mother and errant father regarded . with such suspicion in the
neighbourhood? Diane O’Kelly’s Hana is an effective mixture of twitchy strangeness and
‘Twltchy strangeness‘: Diane O'Kelly in The Seal Wife wide-eyed yearning to depart terra firma, even though at times she appears to have done one animal improvisation too many. Paul Samson
brings a dangerous edge to Alec’s
repressed macho swagger, suggesting a constant need to re-assert one’s manhood in a woman’s world. Fun is to be had from a pair of dotty sisters. but one is left with an overall sense of things unexplained. The truth, as they say, is out there. (Neil Cooper)
DALLAS AND PACKER’S BRAND NEW BUNKER
Pleasance Theatre, Saturdays, 9pm. Fruit salad was on the menu for night one in Dallas and Packer’s new laughter lounge, with a mix of tangy bits, pith and exotic produce to tickle the palate. The duo that brought us Edinburgh’s longest-running stand-up club The Comedy Slap promise a run of anything-goes theme nights to see the year out with abandon.
Our genial hosts generously got the party going by cracking open the Chardonnay and peanuts, their magnanimity even stretching to Gordon Dallas donning a frock after drag sex-therapist Dorothy Daniels
54 The List l7-3t) Nov l‘)‘)5