The Human Voice: ‘perfectly pitched’
beneath a thin veneer of bravado. trying to convince him that her suffering is transitory and superficial. The veneer. however. begins to crack \\ hen she realises that her lover has been deceiving her. Yet she never once reproaches him. but instead offers him forgiveness and understanding.
The tension is heightened by their conversation being repeatedly interrupted and etrt off. which frays the woman‘s already taut nerves to breaking point. her voice brittle with emotion and her face smeared with mascara-black tears. She crawls around the room like a caged animal. her sobs like the yelps of a wounded beast.
()n a gleaming. bleached-out dreamscape of a set (designed by director Kenny Miller) reminiscent of a film star's boudoir with its candles. photoframes and blood-red lloot'. Andrea llart delivers an impeccably sustained and perfectly pitched performance. (.‘octeau's play is a disturbing visual metaphor for our most deep-rooted fears -- abandonment. rejection and betrayal — and this production evokes these fears with aching clarity. ((‘athryn ()‘Neilll
Seen at Tramway, Glasgow. Bun ended. New Moves, Glasgow’s European dance festival, pinned its uncompromising colours firmly to the mast last week with a bold opening- night splash from Franco/Hungarian performer Josef Nadi. Bursting out into the black auditorium like some giant three-dimensional, expressionist painting - all muted greys and browns and rich, rough textures — Nadi and company conjured up a slow-shifting, textless carousel of images salvaged from 19th century playwright Georg Biichner’s unfinished drama Woyzeck.
The scene is surreal. Five men - four in sackcloth overcoats tied up with string, one trussed in bandages like a horror-flick mummy - stand wide-eyed and motionless in a clay- and dirt- splashed peasant kitchen that seems suspended in space and time. Thrown together at bleak close quarters, they run through a never-ending cycle of wacko behaviour, working everyday interaction up to a frenzy of obsessive ritual with a deft turn of physical phrasing.
Eggs are pounded, plasticene statues are hacked to bits, bales of straw are ridden like horses by demented generals, bikes with no wheels are pedalled furiously uphill and a woman with hollowed-out eye-sockets dances with a birdcage strapped to her chest. Those genned-up on the original
Wayzeck will clearly recognise Biichner’s tale of the downtrodden soldier in all of this - and the non- Biichner buffs are no worse off. Nadi’s wordless bedlam is a striking portrait of humanity pushed one inch too far over the edge that stands up easily without knowledge of the classic text.
The cast play out their crazed characters with remarkable charisma and total precision of gesture. lt’s hardly dance — in fact it’s probably closer to mime if you need a label — but for New Moves it fills all the out- on-a-limb precedents director Nikki Milican has spent the last nine years setting up. Makes kinda tough viewing though — one dose too many of the Mad] take on all human life and Prozac could seem like a cheery option. (Ellie Carr)
MARABOU STORK NIGHTMARES
Seen on preview Hie/1r. 'l'lrm's 2‘) February. Citizens" 'l'lreurre. Glasgow. rm/il Sat 2.? .llure/I.
Could r'llurulmrr Stork Niglrmrures the theatre ctrt -- be the world's first slapstick tragedy"? It's not the first ‘play of two lralves‘, nor is it the first lrvine Welsh adaptation to make ftrll use of the contrasting tones in its source material. btrt where 'l’miris/wiring (play and film) scramble up the laughs and the flinches. the polar moods of .llurulmu Stork Nightmares make very uncomfortable bedfellows. Where 'li'uirrs/mrliirg was witty and challenging. .llurulmu is pantomime. then deeply depressing.
(‘ertainly the novel takes the reader on the archetypal emotional journey. (and it does help if you have a degree of familiarity with the novel before seeing this dramatisation) its childhood anecdotes giving way to an adolescence and early adulthood of almost unremitting worthlessness. btrt the radical moodswing after the interval strips this production of some of its potential credibility.
The first half. where protagonist Roy Strang introduces us to his family and relates salient memories frorn his chequered childhood. transforms Welsb‘s gallows humour into an opportunity for knockabout anarchy (director llat'ry (jibson freely owns that his adaptation is meant to be ‘adult panto’). No matter how eccentric Strang's family appear on the page. they were never these barnpot caricatures. John Kazek's portrayal of patriarch John Strang makes Rab C. Nesbitt look understated. Joanna Maeleod‘s hysterical Vet is the
Marabou Stork Nightmares: ‘radlcal
nightmare nrurn and Stuart Bowman gives an Iron John interpretation of South African Uncle (,‘rordon. They seem to spend more time entering and exiting at the wings than your average ('rrrry ()n team. but that's entertainment for you.
The second half moves swiftly through Strang's football hooligan phase. but lingers agonisingly on the pivotal gang-rape sequence. From here on. any potential levity (Strang's Mancunian ecstasy odyssey. etc) is downplayed and despite a performance to relish by James (‘unningham as Roy the narrator and main player. the sheer despondency of the latter stages tempers any enjoyment to be derived from the initial scenes.
There are no marabou storks to be found. only nightmares of a different kind. tl"iona Shepherd)
’lim /i(’l_'l()i‘lll(lll('(’.\‘ (if llll.\’ show were cancelled Hiring to ill Ileull/l. l‘lteg/itll ('(l.\‘l is rrmr' lure/v in action.
Seen at Cumbernauld Theatre. (In four. ‘Humour me!’ the busker exclaims. ‘I’m a lunatic.’ And he isn’t the only person mentally challenged by Barking, Dave Anderson’s new one- man show, co-written and directed with David MacLennan for their company Wildcat. Up the back row, I smile like a numpty and scratch my head throughout.
Peppered with numerous musical interludes, Barking loosely conveys the life story of a working-class boy- musician-psychiatrist turned homeless
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‘community care’ busker. lie is spied on Buchanan Street, recounting his ultimately stressed-out life through anecdote, sketch and song. In the process, the full gamut of post-war socialist idealism is scrutinised against a depressing backdrop of political expediency practised by all parties with regard to health and most other public services.
The result is a queer nee-vaudeville mix of nostalgia, drama, good/bad stand-up comedy and tired/inspired political comment. 0n the positive side, an entertaining ditty finally emerges out of these elements, but the production still leaves more questions hanging than coathangers in an old wardrobe.
Barking comes across as a rummage through a sympathetic audience’s collective consciousness, rather than a satisfying exploration of the busker’s own memory and experience. It’s all too friendly, with no clear signs of stress, anger or confusion - normal things behind most folks’ justifiany abnormal behaviour. And though they could, the politics make practically no impression. If all that is subtle point- scoring — ‘he’s not mad; we are’, ‘the audience is the busker’ etc - it’s the theatrical equivalent of taking the number 90 to Cardonald: ‘takes ages, mate - you’re quicker walking.’
Gallus, funny Anderson is the show, but overall Barking is confused. A successful night in a star’s company, or a worthy mis-fire by self-dubbed ‘tired old socialists’, this could be a swansong for more than just an era. But what do I know anyway? I’m probably mad. (Paul Welsh)
' Here’s Dante Nair