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Take it to the Max

Director Max Stafford-Clark talks about his world premiere of Blue Heart, Caryl Churchill's first play for three years.

Childbirth and theatre directing - mucky, painful businesses both of 'em. Max Stafford-Clark (described as midwife to some of the most prophetic and influential plays of the 805) is going through the process as we speak. Playwright Caryl Churchill’s been dubbed the mother of reinvention. Her latest baby is Blue Heart.

Their twenty-year collaboration has been responsible for bringing into the world such classics as Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, Cloud Nine, Top Girls, Serious Money and Ice Cream.

But creative fertility cannot be taken for granted, says Stafford- Clark. With some notable exceptions (Shakespeare, Shaw) Stafford-Clark sees theatre is an immediate medium. 'Renewing yourself as a writer is very important, and I think Caryl has always reinvented herself, and reinvented the structure.’ For example, in Serious Money she tackled an unfamiliar subject and wrote in verse, giving it ’an edge and a drive and a rhythm and a

metre and a bounce which matched the subject,’ says


'I think she’s her own most severe critic. She’d rather not write if it doesn't stimulate and surprise her.’ Which takes us to her first piece of work after three barren years. Blue Heart is two one-act plays; family members await a woman's homecoming after years in Australia in Heart’s Desire and in Blue Kettle, elderly women are conned into believing they have a long lost son. Stafford-Clark adamantly avoids further elaboration. 'i

Anna Wing and Eve Pearce in Blue Heart

don't want to give the play away. I want people to

respond to the play rather than know what it’s about.’

Aug, 1.30pm, £6.

The only hint he gives is an allusion to the technical challenge of Heart’s Desire. All part of that painful birth process, pain that'll be almost forgotten once the baby's born. (Gabe Stewart)

I Blue Heart (Fringe) Out of Joint Theatre/Royal Court, Traverse (Venue 15) 228 1404, 21—30 Aug (not 22, 25) times vary, f 10 (£6). Preview shows 19 Aug, 1 1am, and 20


Communicado's slick Suicide played at breakneck speed


The Suicide


Semyon is miserable. Unemployed, he sees his salvation - and fortune -— coming Via a tuba, but even that idea blows up in his face, so he decides to shoot himself. Word gets round, and soon every good and bad cause in town is at his door, begging him to do it for them, while exotic women threaten to scratch each other's eyes out as they claim him as their own. Semyon becomes a cause celebre, but in the end he just can’t go thrOUgh with it, and fakes his death and his funeral before coming clean.

With typical rumbustious aplomb, Communicado Theatre Company

drags Nikolai Erdman’s long—supressed Russian farce onto the main stage. The result is a slick piece of ensemble playing, played at we|l~orchestrated breakneck speed. The comic timing is superb, With Peter Grimes’ working class hero postman coming on like Tommy Sheridan at a George Square rally. Conleth Hill's Semyon is a lucklessly heroic Everyman torn hither and thither in his desperation for something to cling on to. In the end though, there's nothing to believe in but himself, a notion which, with the death of ideology, makes this more than a mere museum piece. (Neil Cooper)

I The Suicide (Fringe) Communicado, Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 228 1404, until 30 Aug (not Mons) times vary, £10(£6).

H it list Seven top tips to starta tip top day-

Biue Heart Max Stafford-Clark's world premiere of new Caryl Churchill play. See preview, left.

The Suicide Communicado's rumbustious Russian satire. See preview, left.

Dusty Fruit Former Fringe First winners, Rejects Revenge, return with a new piece of physical theatre. Good clean fun based on a true haunted house story. See review on following pages. Dusty Fruit (Fringe) Rejects Revenge, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 30 Aug (not Tues) 12.30pm, £6/f 7 (£5/f6). Behind The Aquarium At The Last Pizza Show Bittersweet, tender gay love story. Former Fringe First winner. See review on following pages. Behind The Aquarium At The Last Pizza Show (Fringe) Bradford Touring Theatre, Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 2262151, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22Aug,


12.30pm, f 6 (£5).

Jerry Sadowitz Masterful magic takes centre-stage as the usually vitriol-fuelled stand-up concentrates on sleight of hand table tricks. See review on following pages. Jerry Sadowitz (Fringe) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 24 Aug, 10.45am; 25—30 Aug, 11pm, £8/f9 (£7/£8).

Bye, Bye Blackbird Glorious one- woman portrait of Zelda Fitzgerald, the original party chick, revealed here to be more vulnerable than her wild antics let on. Directed by Fringe phenomenon Guy Masterson. See review on following pages. Bye, Bye, Blackbird (Fringe) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug (not 18) 12.55pm, USO/£8.50

(£6. 50/15 7. 50).

Think No Evil Of Us . . . My life With Kenneth Williams David Benson‘s former Fringe First winner is at turns funny and moving. Think No Evil Of Us . . . My Life With Kenneth Williams (Fringe) David

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