Ashes To Ashes

Glasgow: Tron Theatre, Wed 9—— Sun 13 Jul.

So? (Pause) Pinter. (Pause). Black polo necks and pregnant . (Pauses). Or at least, that's how the grand old man of British playwrighting has been endlessly misrepresented. Granted he's never done himself any favours. His obtuse excursions into the underbelly of domestic bliss have baffled, bored and bewildered over the years. His plays’ mix of mysogyny and manipulation lurking behind the after-dinner chat can make for exciting viewing when done well. Yet all too often they're served up as a dry hump, with the actors not even daring to crack a smile lest they give the game away. ’There's too much reverence in that way,’ according to Peter Mackie Burns, who’s directing the Scottish premiere of Ashes To Ashes, Pinter's most recent work, which wowed London's West End last year. ’It's easy to slip into that mode in rehearsals, but we’re trying to move away from that now.’

This time, in Pinter’s familiar one-room landscape, a woman explains to a man (Husband? Lover? Master? Who knows?) how she took part in, and was compliant with, an act of extreme sexual violence. Memories spill into bad dreams of global atrocities, and, according to Burns, ‘through an act of transference, she becomes unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality. Like, if you describe your dreams they then become real.’ Coming on like a minimalist therapy session, Iaugh-a-minute it's not.

Sanctioned by Pinter himself, Burns’s production marks the debut of a Glasgow-based theatre company called ghostown, and is a benefit for Amnesty International, whose board members include Pinter. With this noble

Down and thirty: Victoria Worsley in Grace

“2:4 M- 'ET‘ Pause for thought: Harold Pinter end in mind, Burns has secured the services of actors Forbes Masson and Jennifer Black gratis, while other services have come in kind.

Pinter's worthiness is well-known on the North London dinner party circuit. Changed days indeed from his on~ the-record denials of yore that he was in any way a political writer. Round about Thatcher’s third term, the myth-making ambiguity went west, as strident campaigning came in from the cold. Everything he'd ever done was political, he said in a neat piece of revisionism. Were the previous 30 years just a rough draft then?

'There’s been a seachange,’ Burns maintains. 'Everything's so disparate now, and I think Pinter would maintain you can't separate the domestic from the political. This play is about taking responsibility for your own actions, on a domestic level as well as globally.’ Pause on that awhile. (Neil Cooper)

The play IS the product collaboration between Woods, i‘lirectrur Theresa Heskins, and actress Victoria Worsley, who plays Grace. 'A lot of men write from the outside in ~- bag epics about the outside world,’ says Woods ’Women write fiom the inside

very small. You get a lot of criticism for writing "sitting room" stuff which deals With detail and emotions. But to me, it’s those details about the indiVidual which are also about the universal There are aspects of every woman in Grace, but it's because she’s an indiVidual that that is true

Grace is not alone in this ever» expanding spaghetti-mess of priorities fantasy lovers from Mark Antony to Mr



Glasgow: Tron Theatre, Thu 24-- Sun 27 Jul.

Pay the hills Paint the skiiting board Have a baby Buy pasta Phone Mum Find a iizan Get inarrzed Sounds familiar? It could be you?

Grace, a production by the Jade Theatre Company, comes to Glasgow this week before proceeding to the Edinburgh Fringe Grace is 30 tomoriow and going through illrll

frighteningly familiar pre-birthday crisis Like eveiyone else, she is in pursuit of the 'Perfect Life'. Writer Sarah Woods taged 29f) explains. 'Everyoiie imagines when they're teenagers that they Will know what they want by the time they're in their twenties. Career, love, everything. She’s got through her twenties but the list, instead of getting smaller, is getting bigger. By the time she gets to 29 and 364 days, the list is completely out of hand, and she's only got 24 hours to do it '

Darcy appear as she tries identities for size. Crisis-laden though it sounds, this is a comedy, and Woods is keen to stress its broad appeal. ’lt’s a play for everyone. It's not Just a female thing, but it is to do with the whole post feminist thing. Instead of lost being a career woman, or being houseWife or mother or whatever, you try to excel in every area and be everything. Everyone, at some pOint, looks at their life and thinks, "Oh my God, what am I domg?" ' Hands up anyone who hasn’t (Kate Smith)

et a

out, often starting from something ;

theatre PREVIEW Stage whispers

Curtain-up on another fortnight of theatrical chit-chat.

THE BRUNTON THEATRE in Musselburgh has been bereft of its professional company for so long that some readers may suspect they've run off to Acapulco. Not sol With a new artistic director, David Mark Thomson, at the helm, the company is back in its newly re- furbished home, and will be re- opening for business on 5 Sep. The gala autumn season bites in with a centenary adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, published in 1897.

TAG THEATRE COMPANY also ushers in a new artistic director to replace Tony Graham, now based in London. Cambridge graduate James Brining comes to TAG from The Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, where he was community director; prior to that he was artistic director of Basingstoke’s new writing company Proteus Theatre. His first production will be Worksong, a new play by John McGrath about Scotland's trade union tradition, to be performed in the autumn.

THE EDINBURGH THEATRE MERGER between the King's and the Festival Theatre is progressing apace. A working party has now been established to set up the production company which will run both theatres. Headed up by the Festival Theatre's current general manager Stephen Barry, the new company will co-ordinate programming and marketing in a bid to provide complementary use of the city’s two major Council—owned receiving houses. Currently known (by legal necessity) as ’New Co’, the new company is due to set up shop on the auspicious date of 1 April 1998.

THOSE NICE PEOPLE at Microsoft Network, who are working with The List on the online webzine Electric Thistle (see Scanner, page 81) have sponsored a series of workshops at the Fringe Club during the Edinburgh Festival. Run by the Royal National Theatre Studio, the two- week programme of classes, workshops and masterclasses will be led by a team expected to include Richard Eyre, Trevor Nunn and Fiona Shaw. Sessions are geared to theatre practitioners and admin- istrators, but there will also be discussions open to the public. All events are free. For details, contact the Fringe Office on 0131 226 5257.

Trevor Nunn: may lead Fringe classes


l l