Glasgow: Tron Theatre, Thu 4~Sat 20 Sep; then touring.
When Glasgow company theatre babel kicks off its three-month tour of the World's Unluckiest Play next week, artistic director Graham McLaren will be keeping his fingers crossed. 'So far, it's gone swimmingly,’ he says, ’but it ain't over yet. Probably the first night will come, and Macbeth will break both his arms. Or he won't be able to speak, only fart in blank verse.’
It's an unedifying — and, thankfully, unlikely — prospect, but it wouldn't be incompatible with McLaren's stated aims for the show. 'Our production will look like a new play,’ he claims. ’The language will sound contemporary, and for those who know Macbeth it’ll be like hearing the play afresh. We take nothing for granted. I’m not interested in tugging a forelock to tradition.’
Babel's will be a contemporary dress version then. ‘Well why would anyone do it in Elizabethan garb? Even Shakespeare’s own productions weren'tl' fumes McLaren. 'Our whole notion of Shakespeare has been passed down from the Victorians, like tartan Scottishness and stupid skirts. It’s still a problem.’
This Macbeth will be modern in more than costume, too. McLaren explains: ’We've done a lot of research into recent developments to try and re-investigate the play. For instance, in Sarajevo there's this quite mild- mannered guy who turns out to run a Gestapo-type organisation; and apparently if you talk to friends of Pol Pot from his college days, they'll tell you he's quite adorable.’
Those looking for contemporary resonances nearer to home will not have to look far either 'Absolutelyl The
CLASSIC COMEDY The Misanthrope
Glasgow: Cottier Theatre, Thu tt—Sat 20 Sep (not Sun 14); then t0uring.
Scotsman on the make: John Kazek in Macbeth
notion of a Scotsman going for power is obviously relevant,’ says McLaren. 'We don't need to play it into our production. I'm sure people will read stuff into it anyway.’
He is confident about his audience then. On the subject of Shakespeare education, he’s more animated. ’lt’s fucking appalling how he's taught in schools,’ he offers. ‘And I'm happy to be quoted on that. This is going to sound a bit wanky, but the great thing about touring is showing people that Shakespeare doesn't have to be boring. When people come up to you and say, "I thought Shakespeare was shite, but I liked that!" it’s absolutely brilliant. They’re, like, "I dunno what the fuck that was, but it wasn't fucking Shakespeare!“
As theatre babel aim to prove though, it fucking is. (Ed Grenby)
him from those around him, particularly Jennifer, his intended lover, who is much sought-after by other men ’lt's a very sexy play,‘ says l'inlay. 'You've got this gorgeous woman who everyone is
satire, a in love With and Wants to be around
Stripping away the mask: Borderline Theatre Company in Moliere’s The Misanthrope
cautionary tale against excesses of both candour and duplicity, makes a return in Borderline's new production, directed by Leslie Finlay. Finlay began as artistic director at Borderline in January, and has already established himself \‘Jlll‘. a production of Anita Sullivan‘s The Vagrant Plays, which toured Ayrshire in July
This new verSion of The Misanthrope has been adapted by Martin Crimp, who is currently writer-in-residence at London's Royal Court Theatre, and has attracted good notices with several plays, including Dealing With Clair and The Treatment 'lt’s an absolutely cOntemporary versian I mean, l997,’ Finlay tells us, pointing to contemporary parallels With 17th century France. 'II was a society where the dissenting voice was not always welcome, like our own,’ he says
The dissenting voice is that ol the central character, Alceste, whose capacity for speaking his mind alieiiates
Alceste is in love With her, but is also iealous of her'
By setting the play in the world of iiiodei‘ii media, Crimp prowdes plenty of scope for identifying hypocrisy, 'Alceste doesn't have any solutions to soc iety's problems, but he wants to strip away the mask of moral values, particularly in the world of the media,’ Finlay comments. 'Moliere is not representing society as a whole, but a particularly small part ol soc iety' There is even a critic called Covmgton, whose name, one might mildly venture, fuses those of two prominent theatre critics
Finlay is not intirriidated by dialogue. in verse 't/lolieie works well in Scotland,’ he says, ‘because the language here has a rhythm, and the characters are absolutely believable They're not divorced from us, even though they’re speaking in rhyme ' When the nation is about to make decisions about its future, lvlohc'ﬁe's intervention may be worth considering (Steve C ramer)
It's back . . . the column Samson himself couldn’t topple.
AWARDS (HAHl) WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR? Absolutely nothing, if some people's reactions are anything to go by. Endearingly offensive émigré Scot Jerry Sadowitz was having none of it last Friday night, when he picked up the Polygram Video Comedy Award for most popular comedian on the Fringe, as decided by the votes of the general public. Unimpressed by the absence of a cash prize, Sadowitz declared the trophy (lovingly crafted by Edinburgh College of Art) worthless, discarded it with his customary expletives, and stalked off the stage.
MANNIX FLYNN, BY CONTRAST was delighted to accept a Fringe First for his fascinating monologue Talking To The Wall; but took the opportunity to deliver a rant about the ’inhuman' backstage conditions at the Gilded Balloon, where he's performing. Seemingly, the place is unbearably hot and noisy. Anyone who's been a performer or audience member at almost any Fringe show this year will know what he’s talking about.
MEANWHILE STEVEN BERKOFF exhibited faultless good manners when he picked up a well—deserved Lifetime Achievement Award at the first-ever Total Theatre awards ceremony. Renowned for his 'difficult’ relationship with the arts establishment and the media, Berkoff praised the organisation warmly, accepting his award with modesty and charm. Meanwhile, coward cur critics skulked warily behind their beer bottles, thankful they hadn't written the tepid reviews Berkoff received for his Fringe show Massage.
BAD BEHAVIOUR was conspicuously absent from the Perrier awards ceremony, at which Californian Arj Barker proved the most laid-back Best Newcomer in years. The League Of Gentlemen, collecting the Fringe's most coveted comedy accolade, were as gracious as the Queen Mother taking delivery of a floral bouquet. Let no one suppose that this makes them nice boys, though. As they told The List, ‘we're amused by sad and disturbed lives.’ As the fallout settles after Edinburgh’s Festival holocaust, there’ll be a few of those around.
On his best behaviour: Steven Berkoff
29 Aug-~ll Sep 1997 THE llST55