Edinburgh: Royal Lyceum Theatre, Fri 31 Oct—Sat 22 Nov.

Much Ado About Nothing is that rare thing among Shakespearean comedies funny. In a tale of rocky romance in rural ltaly, Shakey peppers the path of true love with wronged virtues, mistaken identities and a bloke called Don John who’s a complete bastard. Ostensibly about the wooing of Hero by Claudio, the play’s real interest lies in the love/hate relationship between its other couple, Beatrice and Benedick. In a new production by Kenny Ireland at the Lyceum, theatre’s sarkiest pair are played by Elaine C. Smith and Forbes Masson.

’Being a bachelor myself, it's fun to play the wisecracking, cynical, unmarried guy,’ quips Masson. ’Benedick and Beatrice don't actually hate each other, they just get off on all those witty put-downs. I think that joy of slagging people, that love of wit, is actually quite a Scottish thing.’

Kenneth Branagh's movie version His Girl Friday with added doublet and hose brought out the verbal fencing between the two leads. However, Masson won't be taking a leaf out of the Ken 'n’ Em book. ’I thought Kenneth Branagh was a bit Noel Edmonds,’ he comments. ’I’m not going to be at all like Noel, but I will be quite hairy. Mind you, ripping off false beards every night isn't very good for your skin.’

The success of Much Ado relies on a spark between the two leads. Luckily, Masson and Smith go way back, having worked together in Dumbstruck and Getting Past It. But Shakespeare’s comedy isn’t just one big hoot; the play has much to say about gender relations


Sparring partners: Forbes Masson and Elaine C. Smith in Much Ado About Nothing

and the struggle for power.

’We’re not playing this for laughs, we’re playing it for the truth,’ asserts Masson. ’It won’t be panto some of it is quite shocking. The scene where Hero is dishonoured at her wedding is horrible, and Don John is extraordinary because he’s evil for no apparent reason.

'Much Ado also deals with the nature of love. Beatrice and Benedick are older and less youthfully passionate than Hero and Claudio. So it’s an interesting look at love through different generations.’

This is Shakespeare with a distinctly Caledonian flavour. The sixteen cast members are all Scots; and ex- Deacon Blue frontman Ricky Ross has written the music. But fear not, there will be no ’See You Jimmy’ hats at the masked ball.

’We will be using our own accents, but don’t worry. We're not changing Messina to Partick or Milngavie,‘ says Masson reassuringly. (Peter Ross)

and generation gaps.

generation ASians in Britain today,’

in a place where they’ve had to absorb

heavy political agenda.

criminal underworld. As the domestic tension mounts, we’re suddenly

'It looks at the experiences of second- l

explains the company’s artistic director ~ Vicky Featherstone. ’These are people . who are very much part of their own - culture but who have been brought up '

another culture.’ But while touching on ' pertinent issues of race and culture, 5 the piece is dev0id of a worthy or ;

A dose of EastEnders-style urban realism follows forays by the ’naughty :1 westernised boy’ Jas into the seedy



Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, Wed 29 Oct—Sat l Nov. '

Face it lads wonuei‘. might be a

f complete pain in the butt, but life'd be ' pretty dull wrthcnit them

Perverse ideals of the sultry sex goddess or the shackled woman—that-does are no longer acceptable in our right-on society. In the contemporary West London enVironrnent of Parv Bancil’s new play presented by new writing

champions Paines PlOugh »— the blokes are engaged in the struggle to find a balance between laddisni and the new

The play centres on the relationship between a \‘JldOV‘J, lvlr Jutla, and his 23-year-old son, Jas. Both cling to a i'orriantiCised image of the wrfe and mother who was shown nothing but disrespect while she was alive. The fractured domestic set-up is further complicated as Jas TQJBCIS his father’s strict Asian values, forcing the garage- owning duo to confront both cultural

launched into the surreal as the Jutla family members are revisited by the

ghost of their dear-departed, forCing 3

them to remove their rose-tinted glasses.

Hawng tasted public and critical acclaim With her production of Anna Weiss at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre during this year's Festival , does Featherstone feel the heavy burden of high expectations hanging over her? ’No, that’s why I love working in theatre,’ she replies. ’lt's so transrent.’ (Claire Prentice)

preview THEATRE

Stage whispers

Tales told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. LACONIC YANKEE COMEDIAN Rich Hall has been refused a work permit to tour in this country, meaning that he will not play Glasgow's Tron Theatre on Sun 26 October. The sometime Scotland On Sunday columnist and Fringe stalwart only discovered he was banned from Blighty a week ago, and no one seems sure why the mirthful Montanian was given the knock- back. Could his ultra-devolutionist comments during the Edinburgh Festival have antagonised Unionist suits in Whitehall?

IT'LL BE WAGES DAY for former Deacon Blue frontman Ricky Ross when Much Ado About Nothing opens at Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum (see preview, left). He is writing and recording a score for Kenny Ireland’s Shakespeare and will doubtless conduct himself with dignity.

A ROAD TO DAMASCUS-style experience was recently had by Italian playwright Dario F0. The man behind The Accidental Death Of An Anarchist was driving to Milan when a car veered too close for comfort. With fist poised over klaxon, ready to deliver trumpets and raspberries, Fo noticed the offending driver was pointing urgently at a sign that read, ’Dario, you've won the Nobel Prize!’ And he had.

WAYNE SLEEP lS LENDING a helping hand to the beleagured Scottish Ballet, which faces major upheaval after its board was forced to resign by the Scottish Arts Council. Scottish Ballet is presenting Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardée as its Christmas show in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Three special previews, starring Sleep -— whose appearance was made possible by The Friends Of Scottish Ballet - are to be staged in Glasgow, Thursday 20—Saturday 22 November.

Wayne Sleep: helping out an old friend at Scottish Ballet

23 Oct—6 Nov I997 THE lIST57