CLASSIC COMEDY The Importance Of
Being Earnest Glasgow: Arches, Tue 28 & Wed 29 Nov.
Peter Mandelson was never found in a handbag. But New Labour’s Spin king has more to do with The Importance Of'Be/ng Earnest than one might think.
’So much of our politics at the moment is to do with the image, rather than the actuality,’ says Kaos Theatre’s company manager Sharon Schaffer, who also plays Lady Bracknell. 'PR is the buzzword of the moment. Similarly, the play is about the masks we wear as part of society; often we play out notions and images of who we are, rather than the reality. I think the play is absolutely 1990s.'
Thus, Oscar Wilde’s ’Trivial Comedy For Serious People’ is being given a resolutely contemporary staging — though not, as the publicity shots suggest, a nude one. No archaic Victorianisms for Kaos, who will bring physical theatre techniques to the satirical melodrama.
’The style of the piece is quite cartoon-like, anyway; heightened and grotesque,’ says Schaffer. ‘So, imagine that times 150%. It’s going to be very visual, energetic and visual.’ (Peter Ross)
Stripping away the masks: Kaos Theatre in The Importance Of Being Earnest
MULTl-MEDIA PERFORMANCE PeOple Show 103
Edinburgh; Assembly Rooms, Fri 28 & Sat 29 Nov.
Whether you play the fiddle or the radio, now is your chance to be part of the celebrated People Show. Join saxophonist George Khan and his company of art dissidents for a ’noise jam', followed by a show which places the audience centre stage. L
The People Show has been putting a rocket up the bum of traditional theatre since 1966. As the title suggests, this is the company’s 103rd show. ‘The beauty of the People Show,’ says founder member Khan, 'is it draws inspiration from whoever's around.’
The recorded results of the 'noise jam’ reappear in the main performance along with videos of the audience shot before the show, views of the city and recordings of prison inmates talking about incarceration. The audience also has access to a microphone, and can contribute to the surreal club ainbience created by audio and video DJs, artists and musicians.
’It will raise you off your seats and blow the roof off,’ Khan assures us. ’lt's a tonic for everyone — bring your grandad.’ (Stephanie Noblett)
Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, Tue 2—Sat 20 Dec. Previews Fri 28—Sun 30 Nov. 'They say life begins at 40,’ says James Duthie, writer of the Traverse’s Christmas Show for adults. ’Well, I thought my life was going to end at 40.’ A former fisherman from St Combs near Fraserburgh, Duthie had already written two award-winning television plays. His only attempt at a stage—play, Greta, written in 1980, had been shelved and forgotten. Then suddenly its themes -— terminal illness, euthanasia and the family — became horribly relevant. Duthie contracted Crohns Disease, a debilitating digestive disorder which left him unable to work for fifteen years.
Three years ago, Duthie underwent an operation which began to restore him to health. A year later, his wife discovered the manuscript and encouraged him to do something with it. Now to be performed with Russell Hunter in the title role, Greta — his 'rather jolly' black comedy about an efferriinate man trying to do away with his bedridden, dumbstruck mother — has given Duthie his second new lease of life.
’lt’s about what you can get away with in a family,’ explains Duthie. ’You can get away with practically anything — as this play shows, even murder. It’s not a whodunnit — it’s a case of who’s going to do it.
’I’ve noticed in hospital you’ll get old people coming in and the first few nights peOple are quite sympathetic,’ reflects Duthie. ’After a few nights you hear them saying, “why don’t they kill the old bastard?" People’s sympathy goes very quick when they’re in that situation.’ (Andrew Burnet)
Keeping a low profile: George Khan in People Show 103
84 THE LIST 21 Nov—4 Dec 1997
MODERN CLASSIC Bold Girls
Glasgow: Arches Theatre, until Thu 27 Nov at at it ir
Bold Girls shows a slice of the lives of three women — gritty realism is an understatement. Their existence in Belfast is fragile — no money and little hope of getting away from the bombs and police raids. Their men are absent, in prison or dead.
Mairi Gillespie as Marie is all naive hope and romanticism, wistfully throwing crumbs for the birds and wrapping herself in memories of dead Michael. It is classic denial — she refuses to admit doubt or despair — and although the other two mock her gently, they rely on her blind optimism.
Cassie (Astrid Azurdia) is bold, brash and looking for escape, before Joe finishes his time and locks her back into their empty marriage. Her mother Nora (Anne Downie) is a glimpse of their future — bitter after years of violence and beatings, but aching to have her adored sons back out of the kesh. They all know the cycle; spoil the sons, love them until they hurt you, hurt the daughters because you love them so much. They all want it to stop, but they all keep it going because there's nothing else to do.
The fourth, Deirdre (Kate Casey), is
Fragile existence: Theatre Galore in Bold Girls
both a ghostly reminder of things past, and living witness to the secrets that bind the women uncomfortably close. She’s the catalyst that upsets the balance and throws their lives and friendships into disarray. They all recognise that she’s trouble, and wish her gone, but like all ’wee bits of hard truth’, she won’t disappear.
Rona Munro’s script is excellent — we all know these women, we’ve all met them somewhere — and her Aberdonian interpretation of the Belfast patter is very convincing. It is this and the very strong cast that vindicate Theatre Galore’s founder and director Muireann Kelly’s choice for their third production. (Kate Smith)
METAPHYSICAL DRAMA The Gigli Concert
Glasgow: Cottier Theatre, until Sat 22 Nov ink
The scene is a shabby Dublin bedsit, which doubles as an office for down- at—heel therapist J.P.W. King. Describing his calling as Dynamatology,
and boozing his way steadily towards '
the hereafter, he entertains his sparse
clientele and his downtrodden mistress .
Mona on the same sofa-bed.
Into these surroundings wanders an '
unexpectedly spruce customer with a deep-seated longing to sing like the tenor Benjamino Gigli. King, he feels, is the man to impart this gift and the redemption that comes with it. King is clearly a charlatan, yet before long his ministrations to the stranger take on a profoundly spiritual dimension. Finally, hemmed in by the outsiders’ demands and overwhelmed with obscure existential despair, King plunges into an ultimate Journey of discovery.
Tom Murphy’s play, first performed in 1983, has been described by The Guardian’s Michael Billington as ’complex and fascinating’. No one would dispute the former adjective: this is a drama of intellectual intensity, metaphysrcal curiosity and linguistic fire. Whether you find it fascinating will depend on whether you can follow it. Murphy’s ideas are arcane in the extreme, and the mundane setting offers few pointers as to what he’s driving at.
In this, the second production by Glasgow-based Theatre In Action, Paul Cunningham as King and Mark Price as his client spar confidently, though perhaps too ponderously, under David
Spiritual wasteland: Theatre In Action find few laughs in The Gigli Concert
O’Neill’s low-key direction. Amanda
Sykes as Mona makes a millstone of her unnecessary Irish accent (a problem which occaSionally dogs Cunningham’s script-specified RP), and never quite
lifts it off the ground. The overall result ‘
offers little in the of enlightenment or ClijOerTClii
lt’s tempting to wonder why the company has chosen demanding piece. But while you couldn't call this an easy play, a brisker and more focused production might elumdate more of its meaning. (Andrew Burnet)
STAR RATINGS * * it it * Unmissable i: w a» * Very good if! ‘* * Worth a shot * 1k Below average at You've been warned
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