even wash a plate. Their struggles provide gossip tor the neighbours but, in a time when community still exists, the women rally round when the chips are down.
Contining the action to the central section, Gregory Smith’s set is a paradoxically beautitul depiction ot the cramped squalor ot tenement lite, while director Tony Graham has opted tor understated naturalism. Vincent Friell as John presents a convincingly contradictory character, though the real acting honours go to Mary McCusker, who, as Maggie, brings out the poignancy ot the family’s plight without ever appearing martyred.
As unemployment allegedly tails towards the two million mark, a tact tor which we’re meant to teel grateiul, Stewart’s authentically drawn study is as pertinent today as it ever was. (Claire Prentice)
iv ' r.
Men Should Weep: ‘authenthically drawn’
A BOROER CROSSING
Seen at the CO). Glasgow. ()n tom: With a crowded-looking roster of nine Scottish-based dancers. three Scottish- based choreographers and one London- based choreographer. this triple-bill of (mostly) new work opens with the decidedly uncrowded-looking .S'elkie from Arlette George. First seen at the Highland Festival in June. it involves two dancers. three traditional Scots musicians (hi-tech and acoustic) and the ancient Scots myth ofthe shape- shifting human/seal. Skilfully avoiding all danger of coming over mystic and ﬂoaty. George dispenses with plot and abstracts the Selkie myth into neatly- structured but deeply atmospheric pure
dance. Lunging and ﬂoundering forth from a sea-haar wash of blue-grey light. Vanessa Smith and Claire Osborne make the myth of the seal- pcrson's double-life real with strangely beautiful half-human. half-animal grace.
And so from ancient myths to modern legends. it‘s hard to imagine how anyone could choreograph to the bourbon-soaked rnaudiin sounds of cult indie/country/blues act the Palace Brothers. But London-based Mark Bruce (a choreographer to watch) does it. Setting the fluid. fast-moving limbs of Paul Joseph (a dancer to watch) against the slow. almost pained procession of gestures from lona Kewney and Kevin ()‘Kane. he ﬂoods the stage with sheer. driving emotion and the ghosts of a thousand small- town Palace Brothers wives. husbands. lovers and misfits. it sounds corny but it's compelling. truly original stuff. Even if you do feel suicidal after Palace Brothers track number ten.
Last shout goes to Edinburgh-based choreographic duo lncognita. who add an enigmatic little number called Alibi to their solid track record. Dressed in bold blood-red. the lncognita lasses plus two others slip and slide through a slow-burning sequence of simple. unfussed steps and washes of warm yellow light. There are no complex or even sudden moves here. but as Quee MacArthur’s looping. rolling soundtrack gathers pace and individual dancers begin to shine through. there‘s a strong. beguiling sense of four women holding on tight to a rapidly turning world.
Be there when these three pieces meet again. A Border Crossing bodes well for small-scale Scottish contemporary dance. (Ellie Carr)
Symbol-mindedness: Jottrey Ballet in Billboards
DANCE REVIEW BILLBOAROS
Edinburgh Festival Theatre, until Sun 6 Oct.
Not since Prince changed his name to a symbol has there been so much hype about something so small. Billboards, Chicago-based .lotirey Ballet’s ‘rock ballet with music by Prince’ is not halt as big and controversial as the hypesters would have us believe.
Billboards has been hailed in the States as a milestone ballet mega-hit tull ot ‘sassy, super-charged sex’, and lambasted in London as ‘possibly the worst ballet ever made’. In the tiesh it’s neither meltdown super-sexy nor bottom-ot-the-barrel. It’s simply big, tlashy Broadway, complete with iishnet, sequins, mile-high leg kicks and mom’s-in-the-tront-row cheesy grins.
Herbert Migdoll’s treeway-size billboards descend into truckloads of lights proclaiming the names oi the show’s tour reasonably well-known choreographers - Laura Dean, Charles Moulton, Margo Sappington and Peter Pucci. Booming out over a powerful 6K rig, the Prince songs we all know - Thunder, Purple Rain etc - set up an instant tunk and the rest is easy. Showbiz ballerinas and attendant hunks strut through Prince’s repertoire with a mix ot chirpy stage-school enthusiasm, rock-solid ballet technique and - at times - real jazz- dancers’ intlection in those ten-a- penny pelvic thrusts in pointe shoes. (it the myriad numbers in the tour programmes, some score (Moulton’s minxy devil in gold lamé gets closest to Prince’s decadent sexed-up glam); some dive (Moulton’s Pierrot solo
Out on a limb: Kevin O’Kane in A Border Crossing
Purple Rain is sad in more ways than one) but most are last-paced, tun and entertaining.
Trouble is it could’ve been so much better. Nowhere is the dance potential at the hot, sweet, sexy sound of Prince realised. And too often the Joitrey dancers look like ballet dancers doing jazz when jazz dancers might’ve done the job better.
Still, when the iinal billboard descends and the dancers trip out tor another ten laps the crowd goes ape. Some Prince songs from this decade would’ve been nice though. (Ellie Carr)
SWEETHEARTS OF THE YELLOW ROSE
Seen at l’uislev Arts ('entre; at (‘utnlternuultl 'I'lteutre until Sat 5 ()et. They may never have been promised a rose garden. but the women in .S'u'eet/tettrts ()fT/lt’ Yellow Rose sure ended up with a pretty stinking lot. This country 'n‘ western tribute. a Paisley Arts Centre/Cumbernauld Theatre co- production. takes its basic set-up from Tammy Wynette's immortal line ‘sometimes it's hard to be a woman’. Three Glasgow housewives hang out in their local. a saloon bar complete with Confederate ﬂag and pin-ups of Tammy. Dolly. to bemoan their rnenfolk.
Tammy ~- who‘s taken her name from her idol — is a dumb blonde with a violent husband and far more money than sense. while her pal Jean dropped aspirations of university to be lumbeer with a lazy bubble and three kids. Meanwhile Jean's gallus Aunt Chrissie is on hand with unwelcome advice and a bottle of voddie.
Playwright Stuart Thomas may be playing the populist card. an admirable enough intention. and familiarly rnaudlin c ‘n‘ w might be enough to entertain die-hard fans. but the ﬂimsy script. full of banal chit chat and tired gags. is simply selling audiences short. The characters are a stereotypical rabble. while the action — such as it is — plods along devoid of any real intent.
Themes ofdornestic violence are touched on but then quickly dropped as we mosey lazily down that familar road of cheap sentirnentalisrn. The finale — a nod to that good ol’ country music with a belting out of ‘Stand by Your Man' — is a cop-out. but then. so is the entire affair. which does this excuse for a sisterhood no favours. (Claire Prentice)
The Acid House and Ecstasy. “A gripping piece of work ” The Scotsman
Tuesday 29 October - Saturday 2 November Tickets from £4.50 (concessions)
Box Ofﬁce 0131529 6000
By Irvine Welsh author of Trainspotting,
The List 4-l7 Oct I996 57