Angels In America: ‘warts-and-all authenticity’
ANGELS IN AMERICA (PART 1: MILLENNIUM APPROACHES)
Seen (HI_/lll(l/ preview trig/II. Sun .i/ Allure/1. THU! 'lilit’ulrt'. Glasgow. tut/[l .‘I/H'll. I/mt [Hurt/1g.
In a recent interview. Tony Kushner told The list he believed his play Ange/s In .‘Illlt’l‘lt'tl could have extended its lengthy Broadway run fora further year if it hadn't been ‘so infernally espensive‘. He also w rote in a preface to the script that ‘it‘s OK if the wires show'. (liven the budget available to 7:8-1 Theatre (.‘ompany. their Scottish premiere of this worldwide success is remarkably flamboyant r- an approach in keeping with the play's undeniably camp spll'il. From Neil \‘l'armington's kitschy. vaguely lirancis Bacon murals to the wires-very-much-visible appearance of the Angel. director lain Reekie fills the show with grand. colourful gestures - most of which
perfect for her), who he mistakenly
; this slickly mounted and fairly lavish
work. though at this preview one or two;
were heralded by an excess of backstage scuffling and shadowplay.
But if Ange/s In .‘Illl(‘l'l('(l is a complex. teclmically demanding show. it‘s also a studio piece: its main strength lies in emotionally intense. verbally brilliant two-handers. It‘s probably the most-performed new play ofthe l‘)9()s. and it's not hard to
surprises, it makes for a nicely relaxing, undemanding night out. g (Mike Barnett)
account for its triumph: it delves into so.
many large issues -— AIDS. sexual identity. ethnic (especially Jewish) identity. global destruction. the entrenched wickedness of far~right politics a but does so in the contest of full-bloodedly human characters and relationships. Their warts-and-all authenticity. coupled with the warmth. wit and intelligence of the dialogue. and ls'ushuer‘s freewheeling dramatic structure. keep the audience on a knife— edge. literally between laughter and tears.
All this is meat and drink to the actors. and there are some tremendous performances: Michael Roberts's fiercely energetic Roy. Antoine Byrne's heanwrenching Harper. Henry lan (‘usick‘s lightly played Louis and Mason l’hillips‘s earnest Joe stand out. The technical resources at 7284's disposal may falter under a few of Kushner's demands. but if these problems can be eliminated. ils celebration of luunanity should chime all the more resonantly. (.-\ndrew Burnet)
Returning from a working trip abroad. a photographer ((lraham Iiatough)
E becomes annoyed with his lodger
3 (Pamela l)rynan). feeling she has taken
remains austere. but not so his companion.
slides through a projector. aided by crisp sound design and David Holland‘s
growl. and the spin cycle coincides
IEEHEEEIIIIIIIIIIIII GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Seen at Manchester Opera House. Plays King's Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 13 April.
Written in 1860, ten years before his death, Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations is a pretty suitable candidate for treatment as a musical. And this last-moving adaptation (essentially a vehicle tor Darren Day, although he’s far too pretty for the central role of Pip), is everything you would expect it to be.
Following an encounter with escaped convict Magwitch (an ettective Colin Baker, much more rotund than in his Doctor Who days), the orphan Pip mysteriously comes into a small fortune, so he can be educated and refined in order to appreciate what passed for the joys of life in 19th century London. Pip, ‘the country bumpkin with the invisible patron’, is quite happy to learn these new ways, particularly when he meets the gorgeous Estella (Barbara King), who becomes the love of his life after just one kiss. Their meetings take place at the crumbling home at enigmatic Miss Havisham (a magisterial llyree Dawn Porter in a role which is annchair-
believes is his benefactor. There’s not a great deal wrong with
production, though it’s hardly the most pulsating piece of musical theatre you’re ever likely to see. Former DJ Mike Read’s tunes, energetically performed though they might be, are not quite as memorable as he probably thinks they are, and there’s far too much reliance on dry ice when the action is about to turn melodramatic. The audience laughs in the right places and cries in the right places; and although the plot holds few
ALL PEOPLE NOW LIVING
7i'tll‘(’l'.\'(’ Thea/re. Edinburgh. until Sun
over his home. The two talk at cross purposes with the assurance of people who are familiar but not intimate. as Eatough's character (we learn neither of the protagonists‘ names) grows more and more uneasy. When his mail brings a videotape from a distressed female acquaintance (a former girlfriend?) he
l)avid llarrower‘s play -- devised with the company — runs like a series of
excellent direction. l)rynan and Iiatough appear to take their cues from the washing machine‘s intermittent
I with their loss of sarcastic cool.
‘smash the protective. perfectionist
After last year's award-winning Knives In Hens. llarrower wanted to
technique' he felt he had developed. This work-in-progress is the result. To his credit he does not dwell on the obvious -- the mismatch ofideals between the characters - in favour of showing the lodger as a Iess-than-silent witness to her landlord‘s obsessions. Yet so many intriguing questions are left unanswered that All People Now Living. rather than gradually reeling in the audience. grabs for us with a keep- net without ever letting us taste the bait. When it visits 'l‘ramway later this year. let's hope fora less insular work with the same pace. That would offer something to really get your teeth into. (Catriona Smith)
Seen at Arches Theatre, Glasgow. Run ended; to be revived at Mayfest.
The programme notes for Glasgow- based Theatre Galore’s debut production point out playwright Brian Friel’s knack of capturing the local take on universal connotations. ln lovers, he takes the universal (young love) and gives it a specitic locale (rural Northern Ireland). Theatre Galore then present it with disarming simplicity, letting the wonderful script do the talking and the audience’s imagination do the wandering.
Setting the scene with evocative back projections ot a rural environment and a matter-ot-fact dual voiceover, the two characters and their milieu are introduced. A boy, Joe, and a girl, Margaret, are making their separate journeys to reach the top of the same hill. Their meeting is
V‘s.- Van-i Perfect for the role: Nyree Dawn Porter as
Miss Havlsham in Great Expectations
planned. They are still at school and are studying for their final-year exams. They will marry in three weeks. Margaret is two months pregnant.
This much we know before either opens their mouth. When they do, we learn much more, most ot it trivial and most of it about Margaret. If she has twins she wants a boy and a girl. It she had to choose between MS, a coronary and lung cancer, she’d choose the coronary. And so on.
Veronica Leer gives a terrific performance as the ebullient schoolgirl with a head full of ideas, few at which are coherent. Kevin James Kelly plays otf her (or just ignores her) as the temperate tiancé. The naivety of their prattle endears you to them totally, only making their eventual tate — revealed bit by bit by the interspersed articulate narration - all the more tragic. (Fiona Shepherd)
‘Territic pertormance': Veronica Leer and Kevin James Kelly in Lovers
l Scottish Premlere
an els in \ g
by Tony Kushner
Part One - Millennium Approaches
63 Trongate. Glasgow. G1 29 Mar - 20 Apr 7.30pm Tickets: SIB/£7 (£4)
Tel: 0141 552 4267 or 0141227 5511 Details from 0141 331 2219
7:84 . SCUIIANI]
the Tron Theatre
The List S-Ib’ Apr l‘)‘)() 49