That sinking feeling
()f Beckett‘s great plays. Happy Days is the one most rooted in stagnation. But a new production by designer Stewart Laing promises plenty of fun. Neil Cooper scoops tip a mound of sand.
For a trained designer to admit that words are worth more than the power of pictures alone is. in these deconstructivist days. something of a revelation to be
literature it immediately kills it. The life actors bring to a piece of writing has to be not only acknowledged. but celebrated.‘
Playing Winnie. the buried heroine who must carry the piece. is expat Scot Myra McFadyen. who was one of the original cast of Bum/agains- and returns to a Scottish stage for the ﬁrst time in four years following work with the Royal National Theatre and Manchester‘s Royal Exchange. Laing maintains that McFadyen‘s training with mime master Jacques Lecoq has been an asset to his production. ‘Because she‘s buried. her movement is restricted.‘ he says. ‘th for all that Myra‘s physicalisation is so precise. and we get a very clear idea that this woman is trapped in a hole.‘
And what of Willy. Winnie‘s sidekick and foil. here played by TV Productions regular Adrian Howells? ‘lt‘s very easy when you read the play to take it as a monologue. but it‘s very much a relationship between these two people who are stuck with each other.‘ says Laing. ‘Remember too that Willy is perfectly able to get tip and leave if he wants to. but he chooses to stay.‘
Long considered apolitical. Beckett‘s canon is really
' ‘People have this idea that Beckett’s
boring, but they see Waiting For Godot
i thinking they’re going to a lecture and are always surprised that it’s so
entertaining: just ahead ofthe game. conﬁrming the. ‘ ‘ . . Happy Days: stagnant, but moving meanrnglessness oi the elaborate constructs we litter our lives with to disguise the horror of the world. sure. But that‘s precisely what prompted TV adherance to Beckett‘s every full stop might stifle ‘People have lost faith in the message play.‘ says Productions‘ director and designer Stewart Laing to things. but sees it largely as a liberating force. ‘lt‘s a Laing. ‘because party politics has failed them and follow last year‘s multi-media assault course Brainy -- very good discipline to work with. because you can they‘re more prepared to watch something which a devised probing of Michel Foucault‘s mind — with a find a greater freedom to be creative within it. Also. examines the human condition.‘ production. co-commissioned by Glasgow's Tramway you don‘t have to question the text. because you know But what about the endless debate between writer‘s and Edinburgh‘s Traverse Theatre. of Samuel it supports you already. so that if you work hard and director‘s theatre? Has the avant garde l'mally Beckett‘s Happy Days. As any Beckett devotee enough you can find all the moments in it.‘ split the theatrical atom into too many bits of knows. the play is a textual Iarir (Ia/bra). consisting The density and precision of the piece don‘t exactly soundscaped video banks? Bit like a Beckett play, largely of one woman’s typically obtuse and make it an easy ride for the audience. but — existential itself really. innit? ‘I think deconstruction‘s gone as tangential stream of consciousness. with the added absurdism aside — Beckett‘s plays are rooted in the far as it can.‘ Laing concludes. ‘I always think of it in complication that she becomes gradually more buried music hall tradition. and bursting with life and terms of what John Cage did with breaking music in a mound of sand. humour. ‘i’eople have this idea that Beckett‘s boring‘. down in this extreme way. We know what ‘I was unhappy with the text.‘ says Laing of Brainy. says Laing. ‘But they see rim/mg I-‘ar (,‘mla/ thinking formlessness looks like. and now it‘s time to build up ‘and I felt we should have had a writer involved. as they‘re going to a lecture and are always surprised structures and look at form once more.‘ (Neil Cooper) the result was quite formless. With Happy Days that it's so entertaining.‘ Another big danger. Happy Days. TV l’rmlra'rr‘mis. 'I‘ranrrray. (i‘lasgmr. though. you have to take notice ofevery word. even according to Laing. is for an audience to go in bogged 'I‘lrurs 2()—.S‘ar 22 June. 'I‘ravw'se Theatre. lidr'rrbrnglr. the stage directions.‘ Laing admits that rigid down by academia. ‘()nce live theatre is studied as 'I'lrurs 27—.S‘ar 30 June.
SOCIAL SATIRE demented as he imagines her to be a the Church, Cock-A-Doodle Dandy has
giant evil cock bird. When the priest lived in the shadow of C’Casey’s
i fails to exorcise the demon, the earlier work. But following the village people reject their success of the Arches’ 1994 subordinate missionary position and production of Purple Dust, another a game of the forbidden fruits of expressionist C’Casey piece, Arnold power comes into play. is confident of the appeal of the play, A cock and a priest is a union that’s ‘lt’s about these old codgers which is peppered with traditional sure to arouse a frenzy. But in Sean battling against modern changes in Irish songs. O’Casey’s allegorical farce Cock-A- Ireland and about questioning the ‘Cock-A-Doodle Dandy was Doodle Dandy, a co-productlon by the power of the church and attitudes C’Casey’s favourite piece,’ he says, Arches and Iron Theatre Companies, towards women,’ explains Andy ‘and is actually very modern in terms the cock which threatens the Arnold, artistic director at the of its humour. It’s mad, with a whole religious status quo is a bird of both Arches, who also acts in the piece. host of people running on stage and
the female and feathered variety. Sassy Loreleen struts back to rural Ireland from london full of big ideas
‘These menfolk are fighting against things being thrown around. But the evil spirit of the women who are there's also this sinister undercurrent no longer subservient, but it’s all in which makes it theatrically exciting.’
and hellbent on confrontation. their minds really.’ (Claire Prentice)
Trashing the family home like a Rejected by the Abbey Theatre - Coek-A-noodle Dandy, Arches/lion 09'3"!“ melt Icon. the girl’s , , which had nurtured his political plays Theatre Companies, Tron Theatre, "memo" Miles '10! “9'0”!!! dad o cm s "em" “ck -because of its irreverence towards Glasgow, lire 25 June-Sun 21 July.
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