Dundee: Rep Theatre, until Sat 22 Nov. Glasgow: Tramway, Wed 26—Sat 29 Nov at at *
Fat cat capitalists growing in girth at the expense of the little guys is nothing new. Way before Thatcher, the masses were crying out for a Robin Hood figure. One clear illustration of this is Bill Findlay’s The Weavers translated from Gerhart Hauptman’s 1892 play Die Weber. Textbook Marxist stuff, the original earned itself a place in history as the first-ever socialist play.
Based on real-life events in Germany in 1844, this Dundee Rep/Tramway co-production presents a weaving community brought to its knees by greedy factory owners ruthlessly driving down wages. Forced to choose between financing a night in the boozer or a dinner of dog meat for the family, the weavers sink into apathy until returning
soldier Jaegar appears. Appalled at the wretched conditions of his friends and family, the young leader stirs his comrades into action. Hell-bent on havoc, he takes them on a wrecking mission through the genteel homes of the capitalist classes. But in the struggle for justice, it’s one of the good guys who pays the highest price.
Played out beneath long lines of cotton stretching up over the audience on Gregory Smith’s impressive set, there are some fine, visually stunning moments in Hamish Glen and Anna Newell‘s ambitious production. But in switching between epic scenes where a supporting cast of around 30 fills the stage as the angry masses, to the intimate domestic settings of both management and the workers, some of the momentum is lost. And we’re not
Wrecking crew: the dispossessed masses of Dundee Rep in The Weavers
SHAKESPEARE Henry V
Glasgow: Theatre Royal, Tue 25—Sat 29 Nov.
If some members of the Royal
1 Shakespeare Company are nervous
about arrivrng in Scotland With their new production of Henry V, it’s all
down to the two Glaswegians in the E cast. Chatting in Stratford before a
performance, Benny Young gives his
compatriot Campbell Morrison a
conspiratorial glance which suggests
I he OlllOyS stirring his colleagues. i ’We’ve been Winding up the others
England's glory: the gritty English forces in Henry V, with Campbell Morrison
(right) as Pistol
ab0ut the Englishness of the play,’ he confesses. ’It's all, "Cry God for Harry, England and St George" There's a strong pOSSIbility that we will be booed in Glasgow and that would be fair enough.’
If the audience lets its feelings be heard, the company should take it as a compliment The play provokes complex emotions, and Ron Daniel's production takes an intelligently (ritital approach to its English iingoisrn There’s plenty of flag-wavmg, but it is balanced With a strong Celtit present e
Henry is played by a Welshman, Michael Sheen - an dlllllOfllli touth,
moved to sympathise with the plight of the common man or to feel indignation at the greed of the factory bosses, as the scale of the production ultimately dilutes its power.
While the German authorities were so fearful of the revolutionary potential of Hauptman's original as to make it the focus of a two-year ban, a century down the line it is no great shocker. Hauptman’s is however, a perceptive portrait, but aside from Peter Grimes' convincing rebel with a cause Jaegar, this interpretation is littered with stereotypes and one-dimensional performances, perhaps not aided by Findlay’s choice of raw Angus Scots. A valid and engaging history lesson but, like the teacher’s one which
is sadly lacking in spirit.
given that his real-life counterpart was raised in Wales The result is that his character's Journey from Prince of
Wales to King of England becomes a ;
cultural transformation too starts to function as a king, Henry gradually suppresses his Welshness and learns to be more English
Less satisfying is the war With France The Frenrh, (onderr‘ined to waft about the stage in ponzy powder blue, are never a match for the gritty troops on Henry's side in their khaki fatigues and hip leather gear. But otherwise, it is a powerful produttion unpredictable tomplexity and intensity to the part of Henry Forget the Boys Own hero of the film versions Here we have an absolute monarch trying out his power and letting it go to his head,
In spite of teasing their English associates, former RSAMD
contemporaries Morrison and Young
are (()flf|d('lll that the show will go down well and (reate strong reactions. But if the Sassenatjhs do get a tough time it is Morrison, playing the English soldier Pistol, who will suffer Young
gives him a sinug snizle 'I’ni OK,’ he :
says 'l.ly tharatter is Fienth’
Divine comedy and political drama in Scotland’s theatre scene.
JOHN KNOX MIGHT share accommodation in Edinburgh with the Netherbow Theatre, but all good Calvinists know board-treading is Satan's work. Proof came when the Traverse production of Lazybed was on tour in the Highlands last month. Before a performance in Lochcarron, Wester Ross, deputy stage manager Kay Courtney-Chrystal was accosted by the local ’Wee Free’ meenister. The cleric had spotted a still from the show of actor Tony Kearney, who gives an unflattering portrayal of a Highland churchman. 'Are you taking the mickey out of the kirk?’ he enquired, hotly. Ms Courtney-Chrystal replied diplomatically that it was only a play, and that Kearney was merely a player. ’And where is he from, this Kearney?’ pursued the man of God. 'Barra,’ came the reply - spoken with pride, as being evidence of authentic casting. 'Ach well,’ quoth the dogged dog-collar-wearer, frothing with fervour, ’he‘ll be Catholic then. I knew the Devil had a hand in this.’
TALKING OF LAZY, the inalienable right of actors to spend most of their lives ’resting’ is now under threat, thanks to New Labour efficiency drives. Social Security Secretary Harriet Harman, is questioning the right of actors and musicians to claim benefits during long-term periods without work. Actors - who incidentally haven‘t used the term 'resting’ to describe unemployment since about 1930 - have expressed outrage to ministers via their union, Equity, whose general secretary Ian McGarry has written to Ms Harman requesting a meeting. ’We are more than non-plussed about this,’ Equity research officer Adam Baxter told The List, ’because only last week several Equity officers met John Denham, a Parliamentary Under-secretary of State, to discuss this very issue — and this wasn't even mentioned.’
Devil in disguise? Tony Kearney as the minister in Lazybed
21 Nov—4 Dec l997THE LISTSS