iion Theatre, Glasgow, until Sun 11 January.
They meet in a hotel bedroom. There are three at them: Johnny, young, insecure and bursting with misdirected passion; liadine, lull ot sexual and maternal yearnings but low on sell-esteem; and Jack, precise, driven and controlling. Their encounters are occasional, arranged by telephone.
The carpet is patterned like a chessboard, so you know there’s going to be some game-playing. There’s an apple (a symbol of temptation, perhaps, later peeled to reveal its vulnerable llesh) and there’s a toy gun which tires caps (detinitely a symbol of immature masculinity). Then there are the music and words. The former is a ravishineg seductive techno pulse which blasts in without warning, transporting the three protagonists into choreographic rhapsody. This, it seems, represents a club ominously called Heaven, where (perhaps) they first met.
Jane Buckler’s script, however, throws little light on this; or on much else. We learn snippets oi intormation — liadine wants a child but not its tather; Jack has a child and doesn’t want any more, thanks; Johnny reckons he’s impotent, though he later disproves this theory. Although there’s clearly a triangle of desire in place, the three don’t use these sessions for sex so much as tor salt-exploration. There’s much navel-gazing, and some ot it is quite lyrical, but connections between the characters are brutal and remote; and any dramatic development that does occur is arcth obscured.
This, no doubt, is all as Man Act intended. The company’s lounders Phillip Mackenzie (who directed this show) and Simon Thorne (who plays Jack) aren’t concerned with making conventional drama. But there’s a strange irony in the tact that Heaven communicates more directly through music and movement than through speech. Exploration of the selt is tine, but the most engaging explorers are those who share their discoveries. (Andrew Burnet)
Three tor tea: Derwent Watson (left), Patrick iiannaway (centre) and Giles iiavergai play
TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT
Citizens" Theatre. Glasgow; until Sat [7 I’eln‘uutjv.
'l‘raditionally. the rites-of—passage tale centres on a character wobbling tentatively towards adulthood. Not Travels With My Aunt. Written in his (and the century‘s) sixties. Graham Greene's coming—of—age comedy is in part a comment on the conventional British middle-class male who — left to his own devices -- will remain an adolescent until senilin brings on second childishncss.
Retired bank manager Henry Pulling isjrrst such a fellow: gauche. unimaginative and morally upright. his 3 main concern is dahlias. until his ‘ mother's funeral brings him into contact with an unlikely Mephistophelean mentor: Aunt Augusta. Wilfully eccentric. she conducts him on a geographical and spiritual journey of revelation which gradually awakens him into fulfilled. liberated rttaturity.
Greene described fi‘ill't’fS li’it/t lily Aunt as an ‘cntertainment'. and entertaining it certainly is -a veritable gateau of exotic locations. improbable characters. lusty intrigue and beautifully poised verbal wit. But the heart ofthe novel -- and certainly of Giles llavergal's handsome stage adaptation - is the inner development exposed by l’ulling's telling of the story.
The digital surtitles which tlash tip above the stage hint at a post-modernist approach. but ilavergal's pivotal ploy is to divide the central role between the entire company of four men. each of whom leaps in and out of character to portray the tapestry of nus-shapes and misfits who people Aunt Augusta's world. It's a device which works splendidly. harnessed in iiavcrgal and Jon Pope's crafty production to maximise dramatic and comedic effect. while also throwing focus onto that crucial business of narration. the events being unavoidably seen via Pulling's perspective.
First performed by the same cast in 198‘). 'I‘ruvt'ls is as slick and trim as a banker's barnet. Switching between the two main protagonists. ilavergal seems to the manner born. proving wigs and
pass-the-part in Travels With My Aunt
falsies superfluous to drag roles; while Derwent Watson and Patrick ilarmaway also dine out on the opportunity to traverse age and gender. and (iavin Mitchell supplies exuberant support. it‘s rare to see such an unconventional interpretation achieve such accessibility. but then breaking the letters of convention is what this story is all about. (Andrew Btrrnet)
Seen at Edinburgh Festival Theatre; at Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow, Mon 1243“ 17 Feb.
Easy target. Send a reviewer trom young, trendy, liberal, arts magazine to l a pantomime by a toui-mouthed, right- wing, old-ster comedian. The show is sexist, racist and homophobic but that’s no surprise and not even worth commenting on. Fortunately, there are I more reasons than that tor sticking the boot in.
Sample loke: lleg Sister 1: ‘That Stephen llendry had me over the kitchen table last night.’ ileg Sister 2: ‘Lucky You!’ lleg Sister 1: ‘llot really. lie couldn’t decide whether to go tor the pink or the brown.’ .
Side-splitting. Or at least it might be it the )oke hadn’t been around as long as Stephen llendry himselt. Or it the punchline wasn’t looming on the horizon long betore the joke had started. Or even it it was in the least bit tucking tunny. Oops! Sorry. Slipping in (tnaar!) gratuitous swear words should make this review tunny. Jim Davidson would approve. ills adult pantomime is littered with our tour- lettered triends, sexual innuendo, double entendres and a blatant delight in the scataloglcal. The comic possibilities ot genitalia are, it would seem, unlimited.
lio more than expected there, then. lintortunately, it doesn’t make the review tunny; same as it doesn’t make Davidson’s panto tunny. it’s not a question oi causing ottence; the show is advertised as being suitable tor over-elghteens only and it’s highly unlikely that anyone in the audience hasn’t come across the words or concepts contained within. Prudes and the politically comet would be
Jim Davidson: Why doesn’t he just grow up?
horriiled but they don’t have to come. Rather the problem lies with the sheer tamiliarity oi the material. it was stale when you tirst heard it in the playground and it doesn’t become any more amusing with age. Vulgarity is easily lorgivable, hilarious even; boring an audience to death is not. (Jonathan Trew)
[EEHEEHIIIIIIIIIIIIII ouioNs MAKE YOU cm!
.S't'cn (ll (illit/N’I’Iitlli/(l 'l‘ln'rttrt'. l’lttvs l’uis/cy Arts ('t'ntrt' unti/ Sin Ii) I’d); i/It’li returns to ('tintln'rntttt/tl 'I'ln'tttt't'. Mint 12-232” I7 l't’l’.
The programme for ()nions .l/rtke liill ('rv has a potted history of Ireland in it for those who didn't do their homework. it is this history that two bag ladies act out; one a Protestant fallen from middle-class comfort. the other from a large. poor (‘atholic
larmly. The two women demonstrate
the great and bloody battles of lreland with broomsticks. toy trumpets and old orange blankets.
The setting is a rubbish tip. Boxes. bins. old clothes and bottles litter the stage and make the home of the two women — limily (Alison l’eebles) and Bridget (Barbara Rafferty). To pass the time. they take a sardonic trip through their personal and collective past. They use other people’s rubbish as props for their own role-play. Footballs become ex-husbands' heads and bin-lids become drums. Within their divided country. iii their broken lives. in their rubbish tip. they sing. dance. fight. smoke. laugh. cackle. cough and spit. At times they are best friends and at others they fight like Catholic and Proddy kids at school.
Although both performers are Scots. their accents don't falter. During rehearsals. they and director Simon Sharkey (Cumbernauld Theatre‘s new artistic director) spent a weekend in Belfast with the Big Telly Theatre Company. who originally devised the play.
Unions Make You ('rv may have a political theme. it may be a new alternative view of the 'l‘roubles — but in the end. simply. it is two lonely. scared women who have ptit aside differences of class and religion to get through the day. (James Blake)
60 The List 9-22 Feb l996