BLACK COMEDY l Licked A Slag's
Glasgow: Arches Theatre, Wed lS—Sat 25 Oct (not Sun, Mon, Tue).
’The title intrigued me,’ says Andy Arnold — and he won’t be the only one. The Arches Theatre’s artistic director is set to direct Jim Cartwright’s latest assault on the senses and consciences of theatre- goers, a two-hander by the fetching name of I Licked A Slag’s Deodorant.
Arnold recently returned from Wallace country, where he staged the large-scale and celebratory Battle of Stirling Bridge. Does this homecoming not represent a bit of a come-down for him? ’Doing a show with two people has as many attractions as doing one with 200 people,’ he insists. ’I really wanted to do this show because it's a great piece of writing. I found it to be really challenging theatre, totally at the cutting edge. It’s raw but, at the same time, there is a lot of very dark humour.’
The tale concerns a couple of shat- on losers, a crack-addicted yet strong-willed prostitute (played by Swelling Meg singer Cora Bissett) and her client, a sad, defeated type
Mum's the word: non-verbal communication in l Licked A Slag's Deodorant
(Nik Wardzynski). He starts the piece on the end of a doing from her pimp, moving on to nabbing her possessions, including the aforementioned sweat- sweetener. Which at some point, presumably, makes contact with his tongue. ’It’s almost like a dance piece,’ explains Arnold. 'lt's not verbal gymnastics - they never actually have a conversation together. It’s almost a development from a scene in Road [Bolton-born Cartwright's 1986 debut], where a woman drags a soldier into a tenement and has a conversation with him where he’s practically getting off with her. Except he’s completely unconscious.’
From the unconscious of Road to the stream~of- consciousness monologues about dreams and sleep of
Bed and the amorous pub ramblings of Two, Cartwright seems irrevocably linked with the Thatcher years, offering a harsh critique of the effect of alienation under monetarism. For Arnold, Cartwright's writing is at the very least just as relevant now as the post-Tory honeymoon period fades into the distance.
’His is the world of the underdog,’ says Arnold. ’His characters inhabit a world which is almost underground. Beyond convention and beyond society. It’s way beyond the damp rooms of a Harold Pinter, it’s far more of a destroyed state. People live in windowless, desolate buildings and the empty streets. It's really at the bottom end but the people are very sharp and have strong instincts for survival.’ Sure. (Brian ’Aerosol' Donaldson)
COMEDY-DRAMA When I Was A Girl I Used To Scream And Shout
Edinburgh: Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, until Sat 25 Oct.
Essence of adolescence: When I Was A Girl I Used To Scream And Shout
60 THE UST lO Oct—23 Oct 1997
We’ve all told our parents how much we hate them. But while most ungrateful brats move on from adolescent screaming matches to bonding sessions over footie or shopping, the damage done in childhood proves too much for the daughter in Sharman Macdonald’s 1984 play, which won an Evening Standard award on its London debut, and is now to be revived by the Brunton company. In the vein of Nancy Friday's no-holds-barred My Mother My Self, this is indeed the stuff of grade-A Oprah.
Oozing confusion, crossed Wires and sexual angst, the play finds mother and daughter Morag and Fiona on a beach in the east of Scotland, the scarred landscape a mirror image of their increasingly fraught relationship. it's 1983 and, while we’re not entirely sure what rocked the domestic boat, it soon becomes clear that the consequences are monumental.
Having received some pretty duff information from her strict parents, Morag is awashwith sexual hang-ups, which she dutifully uses to stuff up her own marriage before handing
them down to her feisty, hormone- brimming daughter. Flashbacks come into play, as the enSurng Journey unlocks 25 years of skeletons from the closet.
‘There’s a trend in modern theatre to be very articulate about everything, but in real life most people can't articulate,’ claims Brunton artistic director David Mark Thomson, who is directing the new production. ’The play uses the language of the inarticulate and I think that’s something most people can relate to.’ Thomson is also confident the audience, men included, can learn a lot from the honesty of the piece, which is Cushioned With a comedic touch.
’It deals With peoples’ mis- understanding of sexuality from a very young age, often caused by parents' embarrassment or mrsmformation,’ he explains. 'What's frightening is that, despite excesswe media coverage of sex and sex-education in schools, the issues the play deals With are JUSI as pertinent today as they were 50 years ago.’ True words indeed, but try convincing our over-protective moral guardians. (Claire Prentice)
RESTORATION COMEDY The Country Wife
Edinburgh: King's Theatre, Tue 14—Sat 18 Oct.
‘I had the great pleasure of being hissed for one of my lines in Plymouth, which was just the dog’s bollocks.’ So says Crispin Redman, relishing the part of the misogynistic Mr Sparkish in William Wycherley's adroit Restoration sex comedy, currently touring the UK. Human bollocks, as it happens, are the starting point for this story.
A notorious rake called Horner has put it about that he is impotent. Armed with his ostensible hornlessness, he engages in a shagfest with the wives of fashionable London. Principal among his totty targets is Mrs Pinchwife, the pastoral spouse of the title, who creates much farcical havoc in their courtship.
Laurence Boswell’s production for The Touring Partnership features a Jeremy Herbert design, which locates the play in no particular place or time, but rather, emphasises character as a starting point. 'The design is very bizarre, a sort of Vivienne Westwood gone mad,’ Redman comments. ’He's basically taken what he feels the characters are like, and dressed them that way, from extreme fashion to the Simply very silly. He’s taken no half measures, Which is very refreshing.’
The music is by Jerry Dammers, formerly of Coventry Two-Tone band The Specials. ’It could be club music, but With a harpsichord underneath it,’ is Redman’s description.
For Redman, the play's fascination lies in its capacity to make us laugh at very unpleasant Situations. ’At one point, PinchWife threatens to carve "whore" on his wife’s face with a penknife, While my character, Who’s a complete fashion victim, likes nothing more than counting his money in front of poor people, but we still get inside their heads and laugh.’
Redman is currently sharing a dressing room With Patrick Robinson, the CaSLia/ty actor Who is cast in the rakish role of Homer. ’Patrick has this fantastic charm,’ admits Redman. ’He's the most sexy man I've ever come across. It’s something you can’t create, you lUSI have it or you don’t — and he's got it, the bastard.’ (Steve Cramer)
Horner plenty: Patrick Robinson in The Country Wife
STAR RATINGS * * Hut Unmissable t * t it Very good ii air it Worth a shot at * Below average * You've been warned