THEATRE REVIEW EVITA
Seen at the Palace Theatre. Manchester. l’lays at [Edinburgh Play/muse. Tue l7—Sat 28 September; King's Theatre Glasgow. Tue l2—Sat 23 November.
Since first hitting the stage in I978. Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita has been seen all over the globe in no fewer than ten different languages. And it‘s more than clear why. Lloyd Webber‘s vapid tunes - which you know you've heard before though you can't quite remember where — have a depressineg memorable internationality which transcends cultural borders. their insistence matched by lyrics from Rice of classless banality.
That the show has been exhumed to be once more flogged to death nearly twenty years on is a modern mystery which would surely tax the wisest minds. and this particular production (stand up Paul Nicholas. for you‘re the guilty man) is not so much tired as in a coma. The cast have been at it for years. and it doesn't half show.
We open with the announcement of the death of Eva Peron (Marti Webb. made up to look like Anjelica Huston in The Grifters) aged just 33. The scene is a cinema. and the audience. looking remarkably like characters in a Lowry painting (only fatter) spontaneously break into song when the news breaks. The set. which looks like it left the
Well, did you Eva: Marti Webb as Eva Peron
production company with change from a tenner. matches the sombre mood. Not even the show‘s centrepiece. ‘A New Argentina'. can perform a rescue job.
The only spark. if it can be called that. comes frorn the arch revolutionary Che Guevara (played by Christopher Corcoran) who. looking like a factory foreman. leads us through the show. But before long. the pointlessness of it all gets to him. and his performance sinks anonymously into the bubbling sea of mediocrity surrounding him. Marti Webb delivers the numbers with suitably orchestral bluster. the twenty- plus supporting cast more than give it their all. but by any standards. this is a show that really has had its day. (Mike Barnett)
Seen at the Famous Grouse House, Edinburgh. Plays Arches Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 7 Sept. Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution spawned much re-inventlon on both a global and a personal level. Chris Bolan’s play, written alongside his short story with basically the same plot, takes this as its starting point, but roots things firmly in a Glasgow setting as it puts Tereza - an ‘exotic’ Czech exile - in a flat with down-to- earth Sandra, a university drop-out who re-invents herself as the sultry eponymous glamourpuss in order to snare a geeky teacher, Matthew. But when truth wins out at home and abroad, the future becomes more than a tad uncertain.
This is a playfully constructed piece which comes over as Single White Female as re-written by Milan
Kundera. While it occasionally descends towards the level of philosophical talking shop, and its offsetting of the personal against political events isn’t entirely convincing, it is a telling expose of trendy wannabe revolutionaries who buy into the make-believe glamour of the cause without acknowledging the graft involved (stand up - preferany against the wall - Charlotte Raven). A shame then that the characterisation is so one- dimensional, though this might have had something to do with the horrendous overacting going on, which makes everyone onstage appear as caricatures. This is fine for the fantasy-wish-fulfilment figure of Sabina herself, but just makes the others look wooden. Then again, maybe they’re all fictions en route to their own truth. Kundera would probably approve, but somehow I doubt this was the intention. (lfeil Cooper)
Czechlng out: lorralne McGowan plays the title role in Sabina!
[Em— SWEAT, BAROQUE & nou
Seen at Theatre Royal, Glasgow. Plays at MacRohert Arts Centre, Stirling, Wed 18-Fri 20 Sept.
Once upon a time, well brought-up ballet companies like Scottish Ballet stuck to good old-fashioned titles like lfutcracker or the anonymous but informative Triple-Bill. flow they’re lots more trendy, and have clever, punning titles that make timely references to the 20th century. Sweat, Baroque 8 Roll (geddit?) is the overall title given to SB’s latest triple-bill of shorter, sparkier works and, it perhaps a little forced, it makes strides towards shedding their previously pink and fluffy image.
Weirdly, the first number lfaydn Pieces (1995), from much-rated resident choreographer Mark Baldwin, is the least electric. flow decked out in full costume, it bears the usual Baldwinisms of sleek lines, fleet footwork, consummate musicality and cheeky choreographic quirks. Much flirtation takes place in a minimalist forest clearing. But the dancers play it too coy to give Baldwin’s choreography the minxy edge it needs
Pace gathers with veteran choreographer Bob Cohan’s new piece Four Seasons. Ballet is another language to contemporary purist Cohan, but here he crafts a languorous, long-limbed style akin to modern-ballet’s godfather, Balanchine. Unitard-clad dancers slice through ‘seasonal’ landscapes of abstract colour, light and 3-D shapes, breathing fresh life into Vivaldi’s mall muzaked- out score.
Robert North’s Troy Games (1974) opens to a chorus of grunting that would shame the most dedicated Iron John. Muscle-bound males bulge biceps, rattle sabres and race through tribal rhythms at athletes’ pace in this ‘tribute to the ancient warrior spirit’. Thankfully, lforth had enough suss to stick his tongue in his check for at least half of this monument to machismo and the big-man posturings are offset with some unexpectedly funny pushing, shoving, falling over and boys-will-be-boys fooling around. The 705 hangover, regulation lycra pants are harder to forgive, but when it comes to striking fear into the heart of the enemy they’d be just the job. (Ellie Carr)
Sports in shorts: Scottish Ballet in Troy Games
DIARY OF A SOMEBODY
Rams/torn Theatre. Glasgow. until Sat [4 Sept. Then at I’aisley Arts Centre. Thurs [9 Sept; lfast K illn‘iile Arts Centre. Fri 20 Sept.
When playwright Joe Orton was beaten to death in August I967 by his partner Kenneth Halliwell (who then committed suicide) it became a cause i‘e'lehre. The brilliant and controversial writer was victim to his violent and depressive lover. and inevitably. public sympathy has fallen on ()rton's side ever since.
Returning to Glasgow after a sell-out run during this year‘s Mayfest. High- Doh Theatre Company’s lively production of John Lahr's Diary 0171 Somebody traces the events leading up to Orton and Halliwell‘s deaths. and offers a tragi-comic insight into an unbalanced and ultimately doomed relationship.
Using extracts from his diaries. Orton‘s relationship with Halliwell is traced from their first meeting to their deaths together. Against a backdrop of late 60s swinging London (complete
with pop soundtrack). their final years unfold.
Ronnie Simon plays the title role with boyish abandon. ()rton is a gleeful hedonist who looks forward to a holiday in Morocco (‘four weeks of hashish and burn') like a child dreaming of being locked in a lollipop factory. By contrast. Ian Cairns's sensitive portrayal of the paranoid and possessive Halliwell gives some explanation as to why he killed ()rton. Like his backdrop collage. Halliwell has to stay in the background whenever ()rton is around.
The violence of their relationship is always in the air. tempered only by the intervention of the other. often comic. characters played by the rest of the live-strong cast. Fifty friends and acquaintances of the couple wander in and out of the action. most of them (including Paul McCartney and Kenneth Williams) played by James Murray. thanks to an engaging array of accents and mannerisms.
Even though the circumstances of ()rton‘s death are well known. this vibrant and emotive production still manages a touching finale. (Joanne Ward)
52 The List 6-l9 Sept I996