DRAMA Language Roulette
Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, Wed 30 Apr—Sun 4 May.
A £1-a-pint night is bound to end in disaster. But for the lads and lassies in Language Roulette, by young Irish playwright Daragh Carville, the outcome is a tad more dire than waking up in the gutter.
Set in Belfast during the precarious ceasefire of 1994, the play — which comes to Edinburgh this fortnight - sees a bunch of old school and college mates gather in their local watering-hole to welcome one of their gang home from abroad. But it’s a far from happy reunion. As pints are sunk and pills are popped, tongues loosen and it becomes apparent that there's a nasty secret hanging over proceedings. As the characters skirt around the unsayable, tension mounts and the vicious game of 'language roulette’ comes into play.
'We gradually realise that something has happened in the past that has splintered their relationship,‘ explains Tim Loane, artistic director of Belfast-based Tinderbox Theatre Company.
Despite its setting, the piece is not overtly political - as Loane asserts, most twenty-somethings living in
Party politics: Peter Ballance in Language Roulette
Northern Ireland 'couldn’t give a fuck about The Troubles.’ Rather, Carville focuses on relationships and language, the latter being the only feature of the play which roots it in Ireland. Loane believes. Indeed as the product of a people renowned for their blarney, Carville is examining the way people use language and how it is often used, however perversely, to hide behind rather than to communicate.
'The characters are a pretty abrasive bunch, but they all have a shared heart and all ultimately want recognition for their own pain,‘ says Loane. 'They’re all
pointing the finger but nobody wants to take the blame, which I guess is a good metaphor for the Troubles and us poor - or selfish — bastards living here in Belfast.’
Full of exuberant language and ferocious black wit, the play is a long overdue exploration of the fears and aspirations of this 'much neglected' age group, reckons Loane.
'lt's a celebration of the drinking culture as well as a criticism of it,’ he says. 'lt’s a party but — as with all parties — it doesn’t always go right.’ (Claire Prentice)
Once A Catholic
Edinburgh: King’s Theatre, Mon 28 Apr—Sat 3 May.
The desires that lurk behind the habits and collars of the clergy have long been a source of fascination to the layman. Tabloid exposures feed a mythology of double standards and sleaze, but the rule book followed by nuns seems different from the one to which their male counterparts strive to adhere. Convent school girls — always
58 THE LIST l8 Apr—l May 1997
Learning experience: Amanda Horlock and Del Synnott in Once A Catholic
popular with the lads — are a different ball-game altogether.
Positively brimming with hormones, Mary O’Malley’s convent school romp Once A Catholic presents a brood of pubescent girls desperate to ditch their chastity belts. But sex is a forbidden fruit, and the nuns instil fear with threats of damnation, falling back on that soul-saving mainstay, Catholic guilt.
In the pre-swinging London of 1956, the girls are more interested in rock ’n' roll than calculus — Elvis and Bill Haley
have just burst onto the scene, clearing the way for a new youth culture. ’The girls are all at that age of wonderful knowmgness of fifteen gorng on 80,’
explains Roy Marsden the director of ;
this touring production, although he’s better known as an actor, and currently
starring in the PD. James detective 3
series Original Sin. 'The nuns are constantly trying to repress anything sexual,’ he adds, ’but the girls are constantly trying to explore it.’
Despite her good Catholic upbringing, O’Malley's award-Winning play displays some rather chOice language, but Marsden has cut much of it. It’s not that he's faint-hearted, though — 'I just don't think the word "cunt" has the same meaning or power anymore,’ he says.
While it’s full of humour and cutting observations, it's more than a slap ’n' tickle romp, asserts Marsden. 'There's a great deal of seriousness and relevance
about the play,’ he says. 'It's about the i
way the people in power want to get
the young to conform rather than :
thinking individually. We’ve seen it a lot over the past five or six years, particularly With the Tory party’s platitudes towards education '
DRAMA Three Fallen Angels
Glasgow: Citizens’ Theatre, Tue 22—Fri 26 Apr.
Winning prizes is becoming a tricky habit to shake off for Chris Dolan. After he scooped the 1995 Macallan short story award with 'Sleet and Snow’, his play Sabina earned a Fringe First at last year's Edinburgh Festival. Who's to say the trend won't continue, with Sabina all set for the big screen while his latest work Three Fallen Angels hits the Citz?
Presented by Curam Theatre Company, of which Dolan is a co- founder, the show -~ as its name suggests is a ttlpiei‘ill. like Sabina, all three plays are adaptations of short stories from Dolan’s Poor Ange/s collection. Curani’s debut show The Veil is revived, Jomed by two of Poor Ange/5's greatest hits, Recorded Delivery — an elderly woman’s chance for revenge on her family —- and Franny Unparadized, in which two altar boys face private and hellish den‘ions.
’They are three otiite definitely fallen angels,’ savs Dolan. ’And they work across the age spectrum. One is largely about children, one is largely about adults and one is about old people so that was a nice mix and match. One was male, the other two were female One is optimistic, one is pessimistit and one — y0u know — depends what you make of it. They Just seemed to blend together.‘
To keep that blend intact, a narrator is employed and some of the actors turn up in more than one tale. 'l hope the audience won’t view them as three entirely different tliings,’ Dolan says. 'The old woman in the first play becomes the young woman in the second play, and the priest in the second play is the man in the third so everyone is movrng around, changing pOSItions. I hope it w:ll be a unifierl experience for the audience}
Dolan is Currently halfway throuuh a novel set in Glasgow Est hewmg the writer’s logic that talking about forthcoming work jinxes it, he explarns that the tale concerns a bizarre incident, seen tl‘irougli the; eyes different characters. ’l'rn hoping have an intense summer and arr/ouid love to have it at least finished, if mt Out by Christmas ' One for the stocking, perhaps. (Brian Donaldson?»
Lost souls: Ronnie Simon, Simon McCallum and Ian Bustard in rehearsals for Three Fallen Angels