Seen at Musselburgh Town Hall. Touring East Lot/iian.

Marie. Nora and Cassie are three very different women united by cheating men and the daily grind of working- class life in fractious contemporary Belfast. The highlight of the week is quiz night down the pub, and getting a remnant of polyester is enough to cause a stir. Their menfolk are absent. dead or in the ’kesh, and while Nora and Marie accept their lot in life. Nora’s daughter Cassie dreams of escape from the claustrophobic community. When the trio are visited by a feisty urchin. however. supressed emotions fester as resentments and an explosive secret come to the fore.

Having earned itselfa place on the school curriculum. Rona Munro's award-winning piece. commissioned by 7:84 Theatre Company in 199 i, does indeed combine moments of dramatic

tension with humour and real

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poignancy. With themes of truth and betrayal we see the somewhat martyred Marie whose answer to everything is to make a pot of tea learn to feel bitter as the unspoken codes of friendship are overstepped. The strength of the piece comes from Munro's earthy language and carefully studied. ifsometimes slightly irritating. characterisation.

Making the most of temporary accommodation while the Brunton Theatre is being refurbished. Gordon Davison's set for the company‘s touring production evokes the squalid living conditions while Robin Peoples' production could do with cranking up. Lisa Grindall makes fora suitably spiky Cassie. while Rosaleen Pelan as Marie brings out all the hurt and anger of a woman scorned.

Munro's piece is not out to make any political point. Rather it‘s a simple celebration of the strength and spirit of three women in the face of adversity. which manages not to fall into the trap of over-sentimentalism. But all in all the piece suffers from a rather slim theatn’cal premise. (Claire Prentice)

‘Earthy language’: llsa Grindall and Rosaleen Pelan in Bold Girls


Seen at Battier Theatre, Glasgow. (in tour.

Throughout Wildcat’s production oi The Jolly Beggars, everyone involved seems intent on saving its author llobert Burns irom the world oi biscuit tins, tea-towels and superiicial literary appreciation (didn’t he write ‘To a Mouse’?). An awesome task, but over two acts, adapter/director John Bett brings the words, songs and attitudes oi the man and his peers back to liie.

‘lllggledy-plgglody band oi vlrtuosl’:

The Jolly Beggars

Backed to the hilt by a raucous and spirited cast, Bett delivers a healthy mix oi sharp social comment, debauchery and general shenanigans straight irom the bard’s mooth. Supplement this verbal least with some tight new dialogue, and the myth begins to loosen its grip.

Set in Poosie llansie’s Inn in Mauchline - 200 years past but a typical Ayrshire pub nevertheless - a selection at weird and wonderiul vagrants, craitspeople and musicians sing their way through the politics, personalities and archetypes oi the day. But there’s plenty oi universality in Burns’ canon.

llis analysis oi power, position - ‘the Guinea Stamp’ - and hypocrisy might be boring it it wasn’t so iunny; the sentiment at his songs might be no more than sweet lithe melody and verse weren’t so moving. And with whistle, iiddle, cello, trumpet, sax . . . this is the most higgledy-piggledy band oi virtuosi the theatre is ever likely to see.

Perhaps the auld Scots doesn’t trip oii every tongue with ease, but gradually the ear becomes accustomed. Vocabulary is another matter, but the programme contains an extensive glossary. So go and watch out ior lloly Willy, The lord Mumbo and llaucle Carlin among others. li you don’t recognise a neighbour, I’m no waly gangrel. Great stuii. (Paul Welsh)


Seen at Coliseum Theatre, aldham. At King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 12-Sat 16 Ilov.

Marlene Dietrich was one oi early cinema’s genuine stars. leaving Germany to work in Hollywood at the advent oi the talkies, she worked tor the likes oi Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang and Orson Welles. ller personal liie was typically colouriul: her seductive persona and European charm attracted no shortage oi admirers.

What a pity, thereiore, that Pam Gems (whose Pia! did a similar job much better) has made a theatrical adaptation oi Marlene’s liie which lacks meaningiul insight into what made her tick. Instead we are presented with a lustrous impersonation by the statuesque Sian Phillips, who appears to see her as a cantankerous old hat and little else. In this production by acclaimed director Sean Mathias, Marlene comes to life, and then only iitiully, alter the interval.

The play is set backstage in a Paris theatre during the late 1960s. Marlene, by now in her mid-60s and a raving obsessive, is continuously cleaning her dressing room for imaginary dust. While not quite a washed-out has-been, Marlene has long abandoned her serious iilm career, and is instead working as a cabaret artist, recounting tales oi her Iiie as one oi the 20th century’s iirst sex goddesses before closing the




by Edward Albee 30 Oct - 23 Nov


Long Day'

Into Night

by Eugene O'Neill 31 Oct - 23 Nov



by Bram Stoker 1 - 23 Nov


Box Office 0141-429 0022

‘Cantankerous old bat’: Sian Phillips as Marlene Dietrich

show, in glittery irock, with ‘Falling in love Again’.

Traces oi bitterness emerge as she finally acknowledges to her trusty assistant Vivian lloiiman (Lou Gish) that she didn’t quite conionn to what directors wanted (‘ii the camera loves you you are a star,’ she says wistiully at one point), but we’re never given any indication why she ieels she’s been dealt a bad hand at liie’s card table.

There are a iew moments of lightness hidden away in the sombre proceedings, but Marlene the stage- show ends up as a parody oi Marlene the person. (Mike Barnett)


s Journey

I seats £8l£2

The List l-l4 Nov l996 65