THEATRE new shows

COMEDY A Wholly Healthy



Health and efficiency is a cause close to playwright lain Heggie's heart. The one-time health-club worker's first full-length play - which made his name is set in the world of work-outs, into which a young idealist steps, kicks and jumps up his plans to develop a fit- as-a-fiddle city by the dawn of the next millennium. Squaring up in opposition are a seedy masseur and a wheeler-dealer gangster, and what follows is a bout of nimble linguistic gymnastics as they attempt to deal with the situation.

Since A Wholly Healthy Glasgow won a prize at the very first Mobil Playwrighting Competition in 1987, Heggie has become something of an elder statesman of the Scottish theatre, as much for his teaching and views on the industry as for his plays. Yet remarkably, a new production of the play by Dressing Room Theatre Company which Heggie has founded with director Liz Carruthers - will be its first ever home-grown production. Part of the reason may be that classic Scottish chip-on-the-shoulder trick of not celebrating someone's success because he made it big in England; but Heggie hasn’t the faintest idea why it’s taken so long.

’That’s a question you should ask Scottish theatre directors,’ he says. ’The play’s easy to produce and has a goodish reputation, I think, but I can only think that because the TV production was so bad it’s damaged the play’s reputation.’ The play's multiple expletives were savagely cut to protect sensitive ears for the 1988 BBC Scotland television version, so that the rhythm of the 3 piece was all but destroyed. Heggie has himself implemented a few choice cuts for this outing, but

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although he’s known for obsessive re-writing, he has only ’re-organised' one scene. 'l’ve not created any new writing for it,’ he explains, 'but moving things around is down to skills I didn't have ten years ago.’

While Dressing Room is a chance for Heggie to flex some muscle on home turf and show the new kids on the block how it's done, his attitude to the glut of young-buck companies doing it for themselves sounds contrary and somewhat harsh. ’I'm divided about it,’ he argues, ’because I think there are far too many small companies in Scotland, which is something I don't approve of. It spreads the resources too finely, and it means you employ lots of administrators and you don't employ any actors.‘ (Neil Cooper)

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NEW SEASON Wildcat strike back

Glasgow: Citizens' Theatre, Tue 8—Sat 19 Apr.

Fill a theatre with three shows by one company and what do you get? For David MacLennan, artistic director of Wildcat, the answer is simple. Entertainment with a conscience.

Wildcat is the first Visiting company to occupy all three stages at the Citizens’ Simultaneously. Featuring Dave Anderson’s new musical The Gun and two solo shows John McGrath’s The Last Of The MacEachans and MacLennan’s An Actress Prepares - the season’s timing should not surprise anyone. With the word ’crisis’ now inextricably linked with 'arts funding’, Wildcat is working hard on its profile.

’I see these productions as a showcase,’ says MacLennan. 'This is a way of saying that whatever the financial difficulties are, the creative impulse is strong in Wildcat. There are very exciting productions in the pipeline, but ultimately we have to be Judged on our work and other peOpIe have to make the difficult decisions.’

Tackling kids and drugs in Scotland’s housing schemes, The Gun is a '90s urban musical’, co-produced with Sounds Of Progress, a group of musicians who challenge people's ideas about disability. The Gun features dance routines and very little dialogue, with a soundtrack of live funk, hip hop, rock and SOUl.

’It’s about a generation of dispossessed young people who have very few prospects,’ explains MacLennan. 'They have shitty education, shitty housing, no job prospects and then people turn round and blame them.’

Six friends meet in the pad of an old hippy called Slapper. Played by Anderson, he’s described in one chorus as a ’sad old bastard’ a mischievous nod, perhaps, to critics who think Wildcat dropped out years ago. Easy- gomg with hash and alcopop, Slapper bans crack and speed until the arrival of a pusher changes the group forever.

'I don’t think these issues are resolved in the theatre,’ MacLennan stresses, ’but how do you deal With it? The work is driven by a social purpose, but first and last it's a piece of entertain- ment that’s hopefully funny as well as making a point.’

Add the reVival of The Last Of The MacEachans ~ McGrath’s satire on the Highlands’ changing culture and tvlacLennan's An Actress Prepares —- a meditation on Scottish entertainment culture - and it becomes obvious. Wildcat intends to make plenty of points this month. (Paul Welsh)

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Shot by both sides: Gabriel Quigley and Joanne Davey in The Gun