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No thanks for the memories

The new play by Scots writer Mike Cullen asks questions that may divide audiences by gender.

Like David Mamet's Oleanna, which sparked off heated debate among couples when it was first staged in the US five years ago, Anna Weiss has the makings of a good old battle of the sexes. Mike Cullen’s new play commissioned, like his previous piece The Collection, by the Traverse - is a deceptively simple treatment of a very controversial subject: recovered memory syndrome, also known as false memory syndrome. So controversial is the issue that psychologists can't agree on a name.

The idea of recovered memory comes from adults undergoing therapy - often involving hypnosis - who ‘remember’ buried memories

A friend indeed? Iona Carbarns and Ann Marie Timoney in Anna Weiss

of sexual abuse when they were children. In America, where therapy culture thrives, a spate of claims about recovered memories of abuse has shattered families, as fathers suddenly find themselves accused of interfering with their children many years earlier. In some cases these allegations have led to criminal prosecutions, and it was a sense of injustice at men being jailed in situations where doubt clearly existed that prompted Cullen to write the play.

’Absolutely recovered memory exists - it’s definitely a real thing,’ he says. ’But so is false memory, and that’s what makes this a difficult situation. I’ve tried to write a classical tragedy which is about people trapped in entrenched positions beyond their control.’

Anna Weiss is a three-hander about a woman called

her therapist, Anna. The two women have struck up a friendship that goes beyond patient/therapist, though how much further is not made clear. The action takes place on the night when Lynn meets her father for the first time after making the allegation. Anna is also

present, which immediately gives the set-up a two- ;

against-one quality, though the father is by no means painted as a sympathetic character.

Cullen never lets on whether Lynn's memories are true or false but it seems inevitable that the audience will take sides, possibly along gender lines. ’That's one of the things I discovered as l explored,’ he says. ’lt does tend to become a power struggle between male and female.’ Listen out for yelling couples in the bar afterwards. (Eddie Gibb)

I See Hit list, right, for details.

Lynn, her father, whom she accuses of abusing her, and

Horny dilemmas: Danny Sapani as Lucio in Measure For Measure


Measure For Measure

From Profumo to Aitken, sleaze and scandal has been top of many a politician's agenda over the past few years. This made a mockery of the previous government's last gasp 'back to baSics' campaign for old-fashioned family values, leavmg many stalwarts seatless and knee-deep in doo-doo. Fact is though, 'cash for questions”— style dodgy deals and behind-closed- doors rumpy-pumpy among the powerful and profane, isn't exactly front page news. Or at least it wasn’t back when Shakespeare penned Measure For Measure, a midterm tale of political subterfuge and c0rruption Rather than go for over-simplified black and white, Nottingham Playhouses new International Festival

production - featuring a British cast directed by France's riSing star Stephane Braunschweig prefers to wrestle With the play’s multi-hued moral ambigumes. 'It's a play which isn't done a great deal because it's difficult,' says Braunschweig in soothineg gentle English, 'Yet it’s these very difficulties that make it my favourite play.’

Braunschweig’s work was last seen in

Edinburgh in 1994, With an earlier stab ;

at Shakespeare, his acclaimed production of The Winter’s Tale. Like many directors of this 33-year-old's

generation, it's a meticulous obsession

With the classics that drives him. 'There's part of me that would love to do new work, but it‘s finding the right play, and one that is as complex and as powerful as one of Shakespeare's,’ he says, 'With Shakespeare it's all there, and there isn't much that can live up to it.’ (Martyn Galvani)

I See Hit list, right, for details

H it list

The week's tastiest prey for early evening culture vultures Shopping And Fucking Mark Ravenhill's chilling, cynical drama self-explanatory in its themes - hits Trainspotting city after an acclaimed London revival. See feature, page 23 and Freeloaders, pages 29-31. Shopping And Fucking (Fringe) Out Of Join t/Royal Court Theatre, Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, 9—30 Aug, 7.30pm, £ 1 0/£ 17 (£9/£ 70).

Anna Weiss See preview, left. Anna Weiss (Fringe) Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 228 1404, 8—30 Aug, times vary, £10 (£6). Preview show, 7Aug, 2pm, £6.

Measure For Measure See preview, left. Measure For Measure (International Festival) Nottingham Playhouse, Royal Lyceum Theatre, 473 2000, 7 1—26 Aug (not Suns) 7.30pm; mats Thus, Sats, Tue 26, 2.30pm, £6-£22.

Tharp! New York’s doyenne of contemporary dance brings a programme of new works to Edinburgh. Included on the bill are three very diverse pieces: 'Sweet Fields’, "'66’” and 'Heroes’, the last featuring music by Philip Glass. See feature, page 27. Tharp! (International Festival) Edinburgh Playhouse, 473 2000, 11—73 Aug, 7.30pm, £5—£23.

lump! Australian troupe Crying ln Public Places is likely to pick up a ’singing female Tap Dogs' tag this year with their combination of thrilling harmonies. confessional monologue and raw energy. See preview on following pages. lump! (Fringe) Ciying In Public Places, Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2157, 8-30 Aug (not 77, 18)

7. 75pm, £8 (£6).

Knives In Hens Edinburgh-born David Harrower’s haunting play tells the story of an uneducated miller's wife who learns about the outside world from a seductive stranger. A revived gem, premiered at the Traverse in 95. See preview on following pages. Knives in Hens (Fringe) Traverse Theatre (Venue 75) 228 7404, until 30 Aug, times vary, £70 (£6).

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