Gone Fishing On tour. at
A distinct departure from the company’s norm, this new show from Wildcat is billed as a black comedy. Black it certainly is — bleak even — but as for comedy, the laughs are about as rare as trout on the Clyde.
Writer Petra Ross focuses the play on the uncomfortable relationship between an estranged middle-class brother and sister (competently played by Robert Carr and Mary Ann Reid): she — bitter and twisted, he — the archetypal crusty old buffer in jaggy tweeds and a neat line in cravats. For the duration of the piece, the two actors are confined to a cramped rowing boat: a device clearly intended to parallel their emotional unease. It soon becomes clear that the trip is destined to be fruitless (well, you try fishing in an acid-infested loch) and whilst the two attempt to find a refuge in nostalgia, their irritation with each other increases and the dialogue becomes ever more confrontational. Central to the play is its treatment of decay, whether that be spiritual, physical or political. However, the approach at times is somewhat heavy- handed, and the sister’s propensity for singing mournful songs (’Yesterday' is a particularly cheesy example) would make even the most ardent angler down tools and strike out for the shore. Ross assaults this decay primarily through the character of the sister, a cosmetic surgeon, whose picture of
Robert Carr spins a line in Gone Fishing
Scotland is of a country rapidly going down the Swanee.
Targets include the NHS, the Government and, to his extreme discomfort (involving much huffing and puffing and staring blankly at the fishless waters) the brother, a successful expatriate who views his homeland through tartan-tinted glasses.
Ultimately, the play does not convince. The sister is too reminscent of the stereotypical whingeing Scot, whose scattergun approach quickly begins to grate. Unsurprisingly, the play’s best moments are centred on the relationship between the siblings, with both actors displaying convincing tenderness. This is not enough however and, in the end, the play fails both to engage and, in many ways, to entertain. (lim Mason)
I For tour dates see page 70.
The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband
Glasgow: Ramshorn Theatre until Sat 8 Mar. *. it *
Like a souffle collapsing With a phut, Debbie lsitt’s The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband promises something tasty but ultimately delivers nothing substantial. In this context, Strathclyde Theatre Group's version must be Viewed as a success.
lsitt's work With the Birmingham- based physical theatre company Snarling Beasties has won Perrier, Time Out and Independent awards, and undoubtedly the play packs a mean right hook. From the first 'bastardl’, lsitt lambasts the suburban marriage of convenience, where compromise is everything, but adultery, deceit and lies
Heart bake: Jane Dunbar. David de Croy and Mary Wells in The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband
stain the shagpile with a vengeance.
Detailing the collapse of two marriages — Kenneth has an affair and leaves Hilary, his wife of nineteen years, to marry Laura — the story is told in flashback. Opening around vengeful Hilary's dinner table on Kenneth and Laura's third wedding anniversary, this dark comedy of errors unsurprisineg shows a few sparks flying.
Suffering from a mid-life crisis, Kenneth is undoubtedly a complete monster. Self-centred in the extreme, he wants two things from a woman — sex and food. Hilary is a great cook but boring and predictable. Laura is young, moody and messy, but willing to go all the way. Kenneth’s Justification is that simple.
In her writing, lsitt favours few props and characters. Director Simon Biggam obliges. The stark set of table and chairs is swathed in green — backdrop, costumes and table-cloths — signalling envy, rage and probably people plain sick of each other. Using pools of light to move rapidly between kitchen, dining-room and bedroom, the staging IS snappy, and strong performances by Jane Dunbar (Hilary), Dawd de Croy (Kenneth) and Mary Wells (Laura) deliver some decent laughs.
But the novelty of lsitt’s bludgeoning approach wears thin after 30 mintues and dramatic development is required. It never comes and the play really gets nowhere. Both women end up hating the same awful man and oh so appropriate/y Hilary kills him with food. One poisoned Kenneth may satisfy your contempt for decrepit manhood, but otherwise it's a tripe ending after some promising starters. (Paul Welsh)
captivating... exhausting and
The Herald '
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CALL THE TICKETCENTRE Oll.l'221 55H
—20 Mai 1997 THE “ST 67