Glasgow: Arches, Mon lO—Sat 22 Nov
The exotic artifice conjured up by Mills & Boon-type authors is one thing, to write about foreign climes with an authentic touch is another entirely. Okay. it’s not exactly St Tropez, but according to Irish—born, Theatre Galore director, Muireann Kelly, Aberdonian writer Rona Munro has created a surprisingly legitimate portrait of modern-day Belfast and the Troubles in Bold Girls. Indeed it was this quality which compelled Kelly — against all advice - to give the play yet another outing.
'I was fascinated by the fact a woman from Aberdeen could write so strongly and convincingly in this Irish dialect,’ enthuses Kelly, adding that even a pedant could detect only minor flaws in the play.
Having proved staggeringly popular since it was commissioned by 7:84 Theatre Company in 1991, Bold Girls is a piece Kelly has long resisted doing. Last year saw simultaneous productions from Borderline and the Brunton Theatre Company. and as Kelly is all too aware, accusations of copping-out and cashing-in come in tandem with re-staging such a sure-fire hit.
‘Obviously there's nothing more pleasurable than performing a good play in front of a full house,’ she concedes. 'But you wouldn’t dream of doing something just because it’s tried and tested. I feel really strongly about the quality of writing in Bold Girls, wnich is why I eventually thought "hang-it that there's another 101 productions doing the rounds, we’ll just do a really strong Irish production".’
While it can be heavy-going at times, Munro's play is far from a baggage-laden polemic on the Troubles. Rather it is a warm and humorous celebration of the strength and spirit of three women in the face of
Bold Girls: Theatre Galore in Rona Munro's popular play
adversity. United by the absence of their menfolk - who are either dead, AWOL, or in jail - and by the daily grind of life in fractious contemporary Belfast, the play sees the trio of women divided over acceptance and fierce defiance of their lot in life.
Naturalism is punctured by stylised scenes and, with the arrival of a strange young girl, the women’s lives, complete with carefully constructed coping mechanisms, are thrown into chaos.
With compatriot Kate Carson in the cast, Kelly will play the Irish card in this production, the third from Theatre Galore.
’I have instinctive responses to what these women go through, not just as a woman but because I'm Irish,’ asserts Kelly. 'Not to say anything against the Scottish productions, but there’s still a lot that hasn’t been said and explored here and I feel our insight will give us the edge.’ Bold words indeed. (Claire Prentice)
DRAMA The Holly And The Ivy
Edinburgh: King’s Theatre, Tue l8—Sat 22 Nov.
Christmas fare: The Holly And The Ivy
A Christmas story performed in November by ex-stars from Coronation Street and clasSic 70s TV police drama Van Der Valk may appear an unlikely seasonal reCipe, but Middle Ground Theatre Company’s The Holly And The liy could be an excellent festive dish.
A Yuletide family gathering in a Norfolk Vicarage in I947 is swamped by tension in Wynyard Browne’s drama. Reverend Martin Gregory, an old parson sick of rural life, receives a visit from his three children, all of whom feel he is holding them back. Mick the son, home on leave from national service, sparks a family feud.
'He’s the sort of lad who speaks his mind, who breaks the rules,’ chuckles Lee Warburton, who plays Mick. ’Playing the disruptive element suits me fine. I love all that stuff, a bit of aggro. But at least my character is nicely spoken. I usually get Manc yobbos‘
Warburton is better known as Corrie's Tony Horrocks, the mechanic who left Weatherfield after running down Joyce, Judy Mallett’s annoying mother.
He has since appeared in Channel 5's
courtroom drama A Wing And A Prayer, played Tybalt as Liam Gallagher in a production of Romeo And Juliet, and acted nasty in violent drugs movie Dog Tribe, to be released next spring.
Reverend Gregory is played by Barry Foster, best remembered as Dutch detective Van Der Valk in the long- running TV series of the same name, and as the deranged ’necktie murderer’ in Hitchcock's masterful Frenzy. He must have marvellous memories of the great director?
’Quite honestly, spending three days filming a rape and murder scene wasn't unlimited joy,’ he drawls. ’Barbara Leigh-Hunt and I had to grit our teeth and make ourselves do it. It was wonderful working with Mr Hitchcock, of course.’
His memories of Van Der Valk are a lot less ambivalent.
'Making a crime series for grown-ups was a very nice way to earn lots of money. There were a minimum of car chases and beatings, so we were able to concentrate on character, dialogue and the beautiful scenery of Amsterdam.’ (Peter Ross)
Last chance to get serious before the panto season. Oh yes It is.
F***ING MARVELLOUS - or so the Writers’ Guild seems to think. Mark Ravenhill’s hit play Shopping And Fucking, which received a reception best described as mixed at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, is one of four plays nominated for the West End Theatre gong at this year's Writers' Guild Awards. The others are East Is East by Ayub Khan-Din, Ben Elton’s Popcorn (also a bestselling novel), and Closer by Patrick Marber. None of these three have been seen in Scotland, though Marber's previous play, Dealer's Choice, was a sell-out hit at the Fringe in 1996. If Ravenhill wins, devolutionists can log it as further evidence of the cultural divide between Scotland and London.
NOT THAT WE'RE NOT COSMG POLITAN. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe might not have ’Inter- national’ in its title, but it certainly brings in a few punters from overseas. While many Fringe-comers can think of no higher goal than casual fornication, talent scouts from all over the world focus on the other half of Ravenhill’s title, wheeling around their supermarket trolleys for the best work to bring home with them. This year, the British Council spent £60,000 on showcasing British talent, presenting 23 shows to 220 international promoters. Much of the meeting and greeting was conducted at breakfasts in the Fringe Club, where show-traders could mingle over croissants and hangovers. The result has been a wealth of international dates for Fringe shows. Scottish companies which have been offered foreign tours include the Traverse, Theatre Cryptic and Suspect Culture. Of course, a few folk managed to achieve both objectives. Booking And Banking, anyone?
Commerce and copulation: Mark Ravenhill rated by Writers' Guild
7—20 Nov 1997 THEUSTBl