The comeback tour was once restricted to the ageing rock dinosaur creaking its way back onto the touring circuit after a decade or so away. Now. in our post- modern. ironic. ﬁn de siecle blah blah etc . . . anyone can announce it. So it is with Mr Harry Hill. Barely a crop rotation out of the Edinburgh Festival and he is galavanting on stage in his continued Comeback Special. ‘That's a little joke on my behalf.‘ asserts Hill. ‘It seems that I‘m always touring. which doubles the work because of the travelling. lfl could ﬁnd a way to get everyone to me that would be perfect.‘
Not that many would complain. Hill has attracted both critical and popular acclaim with his peculiar brand of jerkily improvised madness and stream of apparent non-sequiturs. ‘The trick is to make it look like you’re doing it for the ﬁrst time.‘ admits Dr Hall. ‘As you get better you learn how to make things more even and people have an idea what you‘re going on about.‘
‘Dr Hall?‘ I hear you wail. His real surname is Hall and he once trod other boards as a physician. Frustration with the lengthy hours and desire to ﬁnd an alternative vocation saw Harry Hill fall into entertainment. He had the material. All he needed were the threads. So he introduced the comfortable suit and ill- ﬁtting collar and charmed audiences across the nation. ‘1 didn‘t want to wear .a tie.‘ confesses Hill. ‘so I thought I‘d better make something of the collar. it does provide a certain amount of
Harry lllll: doctor In the house
support to the back of the neck.‘
What doesn‘t suit him so readin is the interviewing circuit: he sees it as a necessary evil. ﬁelding the same old questions. OK — here's one. Which alarm clocks do you prefer? Buzzer or hell? ‘()h. bell. I think. A buzzer always reminds me of the old cardiac arrest bleep.‘ states Hill. reminding himself. ‘Then l‘m up and across the room and dressed with utensils in hand.‘ Harry Hill. Always thinking on his feet. (Brian Donaldson)
Harry Hill '3 Comeback Special. Pavilion Theatre. Glasgow. Fri [8 Oct.
Clan in crisis
Some plays are so swamped by their author’s personality that they become one long, indulgent whine. As Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s recent production showed, Eugene C’lleill’s long Day’s Joumey Into Night transcends this to become a long, harrowing haul into the heart - and liver - oi good old American family values. Self-destruction is rampant in this story oi a whole clan addicted to something or other, watched over by a towering patriarch.
‘Seelng it as purely autobiographical is unfair,’ says director Stewart laing, who is cramming a new production into one of the Citizens’ Theatre’s tiny studio spaces. ‘People forget how it deviates from O’lleill’s life, and how I: edited out what wasn’t important to
laing is keeping the production decidedly low-key. “There’s a tendency to be melodramatic, especially because it’s a play about an actor,’ he says. ‘I thought it would work really well in a small space and lend itself to being seen in close-up.’
As laing’s terminology suggests, it was the film starring Katharine llepburn and Ralph Richardson which first switched him on to the play, and it was to the filmscript that he turned. ‘lt’s a fantastic movie, but of course it
Stewart lalng: cutting a long story short
looks quite hammy now, though that’s only because acting styles have changed,’ he says. ‘lt’s a lot shorter than the play, though I’ve put back a couple of political references which were probably taken out because of McCarthyism.’
Laing sees O’lleill’s canon as akin to Strindberg’s: ‘0’lleill dragged it into the 20th century. This play’s about terminal depression, and self- medicating that depression. We have different attitudes towards alcohol today than existed when C’lleill wrote it, yet it became a hugely popular play and a star vehicle. C’lleill was the first American playwright of note, and long Day’s Journey is their IIamIet.’ (lleil Cooper) long Day’s Journey Into Night, Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, Thurs 31 gag-Sat 23 Ila v. Free preview Wed 30
THE COMEDY CAFE
East Kllbrlde Arts Centre, last Friday of each month.
After a break of several months, regular stand-up makes a welcome return to East ltilbride. Past triumphs have included the likes of llonnan lovett, Fred MacAulay and Parrot.
This time the emphasis is on showcasing some new Scottish talent, as well as attracting more big names. On 27 September, the proceedings got off to a good start, and were compared by the incrediby ginger-haired Marian Kilpatrick, whose easy-going style was suited to the relaxed atmosphere of the café itself.
John Cillick, who has ‘never been on Scot FM in his f"*ing life,’ went down very well, with an amusing set taking in topics from USS neds to Columho, via Rangers players.
Headlining was the talented llavid Keay, whose very polished act was a barrage of witty one-liners and insightful humour, served up at a breakneck pace. In his late teens he ‘had less chance of scoring than a llorwegian on Going For Cold,’ and having read the poetry pages of The Big Issue, he knows why so many people are homeless. lle’ll probably
get into some hot water over that one, but he’s got a point.
Keay’s relentless delivery was probably wasted on some of the audience, some of whom had trouble
' keeping up, perhaps because their
senses were being slowly dulled with alcohol. All in all, though, a successful evening.
In October, watch out for Scott Capurro, Marian Kilpatrick (again), Craig Campbell, Dave Williams and Bruce Morton. Budding stand-ups should also take note: there will be open spots, so get up there and have a
If you only go to one comedy club this year, you really should get out more often. (Scott Montgomery)
. £553.; Scot FM free: John Cilllck at East Kilbrlde Comedy Cafe
CYRANO DE BERGERAC
Royal Lycezon Theatre. Ifrlinlmrgh. until Sat 2 Nov; then touring.
it was a shrewd decision on the part of Comrnunicado Theatre Company to revive their Cyrano De Bergerac. ﬁrst staged in I992, when Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s ﬁlm had thrown Scotland into a hot sweat of Depardieu fever. The show was a hit then. and is almost certain to repeat its success.
Edmond Rostand’s loosely biographical play about the legendary soldier poet revels in artiﬁciality. and director Gerard Mulgrew engages this to the hilt. The rhyming couplets (translated into vibrantly witty. coarse Scots by Edwin Morgan). the outrageous plot — paramour Roxane wooed by handsome dimwit Christian using words composed by ugly comrade-in-arms Cyrano - and the theatrical framework which draws us into the story — these are matched by Mulgrew‘s lavish but earthy and thoroughly organic production; and by Gordon Davidson. Rick Fisher and
Caroline Scott‘s designs. all of which create spectacle without attempting to conceal illusion.
The play places huge demands on its leading actor. and Tom Mannion is magniﬁcent in the title role. never more ﬁery and assured than when negotiating the treacherous waters of Cyrano's sprawling monologues. But he is buoyed up with tremendous vigour by a talented. ten-strong ensemble. Women play men. men play women and the whole cast play musical instruments — all with elegance and sufﬁcient poise to switch effortlessly between the play‘s comic and tragic moods.
But although we see the scenery being changed. the sound effects being made. although Christian‘s courtship of Roxane relies on plot devices that will convince no one. Rostand‘s real theme is not the artificial but the genuine. the aching and longing that fuel Cyrano’s hotheadcd public persona. The crucial episode at the centre of the play — that famous parody of Romeo And Juliel’s balcony scene — reveals a Cyrano from whom words are not spun but wrung. a man bent in two by the cruelty of passion. (Andrew Burner)
Cyrano lle Bergerac: the heart is mightier than the sword
“The List l8-3l Oct I996