Reduced for City blights
The Royal Lyceum’s Best 0fle Rest season is a celebration of different working practices around the British Isles. But as companies arrive from Eire and Wales, Neil Cooper wonders if these Celtic visitors don’t have something in common.
This is a tale of two very different
, _ . Booze and Troubles: Bough Magic Theatre Company in Pentecost CiIiL‘S. illitl liiiiii)’. liiitli)’ CUUIitl'iCS.
Though clearly rooted in their re-imposition of direct Westminster (iraffiti in Ireland has always been ' r ' s . s - TCSPCCUW SCtlgl‘ilphical locales. both rule. Parker’s play looks at the somewhat more pointed. though this Last of the "the: Elizabem Mactennan as Dublin‘s Rough Magic and Cardiff‘s Y responses of a quartet of misfits in one didn't stop Stewart l’arker filling Meg Massachan Cymni reach out way beyond their own house. where the ghost of a former l’t'ti/ct-mr with a warmth that almost back gardens without losing their tenant also dwells. her rude intrusions belies its seriousness. ‘li was one of the Thank'u'ly the ballet that Politics and distinct identities. Both Stewart forming the plays backbone. None bleakesi periods of Ireland's history-j 3" don't mix has "met W0" mush Parker"s I’m/certs! and Ed Thomas‘s limit A l-‘mieo/tcn ('t‘tv meanw hile. is a says the show ‘s director- Lynn Put-kc]- support in Scottish theatre. This feisty Sung From A Forgot/en ('ily' revel in who it turns otil is the w riter's tradition l00k$ Slit '0 continue apace their sense of location as well as their sThe trouble with the issue niece. ‘There is a paradox in the play. with The Last Of the MacEac/rans, the displacement. at yearning for . , t in that it examines themes of liy ing in latest play by writer/director John somewhere ()ther. Is there 5 an argumen ’ a both a universal and a personal way. McGrath. This new Show - produced Brought to Edinburgh for the Royal counter-argument, and the" a .-\ll the characters are lost or looking by Freeway Stage, the theatrical wing l..yceum's cheekily titled lies! o/"I'lre thesis, I hate writers who think for something. and there are many of McGrath’s Freeway film company - Rest season (which also includes they’ve got a” the answers_ religious references,‘ .-\nd the ghost'.’ tells the unambiguous story of England‘s Wrestling School company). What lam dealing with is a Holy or what‘.’ ‘Slte‘s a real. hard-line present-day natives being driven from Rough Magic and Y C‘y'wni have . . . . , “No Surrender?" Protestant. she‘s yery' the Highlands by white settlers. diverse approaches to their work. but drama 0’ poss'b'l't'es- substantial. there's nothing \vispy Performed by MCG'ath’S Wife and one thing they do have in common is Ed Thomas about her at all.‘ long-tenn collaborator Elizabeth their commitment. in the face of trendy There‘s nothing wispy in songs- I’mm maelennan’ the play examines the dccml‘ll'uumnm Sbectacle. for text- swaggering lament specifically for .\ lint/ridden (‘i/y‘. either. in which the literal and metaphorical death of Wild based work. Cardiff. though it could stand for any characters. lost souls to a man. all Boys " those Wis”, tough-“Vinyl Pentecost is set during l‘)74 when. burnt-out heartland w here the industrial ‘chase dragons to free their screaming poaching, womanising types who have after- ﬁv-c years of the modern-day revolution once roared. souls.‘ Thomas maintains that while Named the north 0' scouand '07 Troubles. the British government set up ‘Walcs hasn‘t got an urban yoice at all Sorter. . . w enl down a storm in generations: ﬁlling local communities a power-sharing executive in Belfast. in itt playwrighting‘. says lid 'l‘homas. Bucharest. ‘l.ondon's been the most with myths and legends largely of which both Protestants and (Hitholics w ho‘s written :llltl directed this and difficult pract- to play they ‘t-t- streets the" own making- However, Since took part. The self-styled Ulster ey cry other Y (‘y mni show to date. behind in their approach to "can". “mt eStabliShed a tummy Workers Council though. i'eneged. and ‘\\'riting plays in Wales is oiin a contcmpoary theatre and the way it's sin-“lit l" the Highlands With 7384 brought the province to a standstill for sophisticated way of writing Kl/l’rt‘t' t: to constructcd.‘ "193'"? company (scouandl bac" in two weeks. thus ensuring the long-term ltcrt'.’ Both companies' working tcchnittues
the early 1970s, he claims to have watched the breed’s steady demise.
‘There has been a massive demographic change,’ says Mccrath. ‘ilow, retired folk with their savings and redundancy money are moving into the Highlands. They are taking over pubs and crafts but they do not go to the dances or use the local shops. They are nice human beings but they are not really part of the culture. As other locals leave the area, those who are left realise their way of life is completely vanishing.’
The plot finds Meg MacEachan - the last of the clan — mourning the death of her Wild Boy son noddie, which may at first create a rather gloomy impression. But do not fear . . . with the Bravehearf video played throughout (Wallace as the ultimate maddy, perhaps?) plus laughs, music and numerous tall stories to temper the loss, Mccrath has not turned maudlin. Maybe just slightly kitsch, with a healthy stock of irony?
‘I’m glad if the play is inflammatory,’ he says, ‘but this is not a lament. It’s a wry, comic look at the situation in the Highlands today. An elegy for a
are rooted in a profound belief in the power to change one‘s destiny. Yet despite the contentious nature of both works. the two companies prefer to eschew knee-ierk didacticism for. in Rough Magic‘s case. an earthy naturalisin. w hile Y (‘y mni opt for sweat} l}ricism. "The trouble with the issue playg' says Thomas. ‘is' there's an argument. :1 counter-argument. and then a thesis I hate writers w ho think they'yc got all the answers. What I'm dealing with is a drama of possibilities.
lk‘spitc its historical conte\t. /)('Ilf(’('(’.\f isn't an issue play either. and the possibilities it suggests might eycn already be happening. ‘.-\t the time it was w rittcn.‘ says l’arker. ‘pcoplc thought the optimism of the play was naive; yet just lately. cyen though it's gone off the rails a bit. w c'ye discovered there is a way forward. Stewart belieyed totally in the dignity of human beings. and that if two factions can give themselycs dignity. and lose their fears and paranoias. things haye a better chance of healing.‘ Sir/it: from .-\ l‘iH‘g’U/lt’ll (it); i (:vnmr. It’ovtt/ [yet-tun 'l’lit'tttrt'. lio’iri/mre/t. llt’t/ changingway of life.’ (Paul Welsh) 22.3}1/ .llttv; I’m/crust. Rune/1 La“ 0' The maCEaChans' Freeway ' ' ,ilttgrt‘. Royal tween/tr Hurt/re. Stage. Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh, Drama of possibilities: Y Cwmni in Song From A Forgotten City [attribute/t. rm 2s .tttrt- so; / .lllllt’.
52 The List l7-30 May l‘l‘lo