preview r—SHAKESPEARE Stage whispers Macbeth Rejoice! ’Tis the season of awards.
Glasgow: Citizens’ Theatre, Fri 13 Feb—Sat 7 Mar. Free preview, Thu 12
Feb. When Robert David MacDonald, co-
director of the Citizens’ Theatre, cast Gerard Murphy as Macbeth, he knew what he was getting. Aside from a string of leading parts at the Royal Shakespeare Company (where Murphy is an associate artist), in television shows like McCallum and films like Waterworld, the Irish actor has played numerous major parts at the Citizens’. He made his UK debut there in 1974, playing Coriolanus; other past title roles include Pericles, Woyzeck, Chinchilla and . . . er. . . Macbeth.
In Giles Havergal’s memorably spare 1979 production — featuring David Hayman as Lady Macbeth - Murphy sprinted from blasted heath to dusty death in a mere two hours, without cutting a comma. This time around, MacDonald’s trusty editing
pencil has been deployed to keep the play brisk; and Murphy, reckons he'll appreciate the change of pace. 'I’ve always used [the 1979 version] as a kind of benchmark,’ he says, 'because I really thought it was a ; great production. There are advantages to being young; ' but it’ll be good to have a bit more weight.’
Based in London, Murphy says he feels far more at home in Scotland, where he believes the earthy spirit of Shakespeare is more alive than in England since the Industrial Revolution. A recent guest director at Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum, he staged a poignant Caucasian Chalk Circle. But he has a special love for the
‘Those three men taught me everything I believe in,’ he says, referring to MacDonald, Havergal and designer/director Philip Prowse, the trio who hold the Citizens’ fate in their collective palm. ’I got it from them, and it stood me in good stead. The thing I always notice is that 7.30 is the most important time in the day,
Unsex me here: Gerard Murphy and Da
vid Hayman in the 1979 Macbeth
because what's happening at 7.30 is why the thing's there in the first place. That seems like an obvious thing, but actually it's quite rare.’
For the next three weeks, 7.30 will also herald two other treats. In the Stalls Studio, Havergal performs Beckett’s monologue Krapp's Last Tape, in which a decrepit old man harks back to the juice of younger days via tape-recordings made over the years. Meanwhile the Circle Studio welcomes Nigel Lowery as guest director/designer. Lowery has gained notoriety and awards for audacious Wagner productions in London, and began directing in 1996. His production of
Quartet - Heiner Miiller's transposition of Les Liaisons
Dangereuses to a futuristic setting - should ensure some hurly-burly before the battle’s lost and won.
I Krapp’s Last Tape is in the Sta/ls Studio, Wed 7 7 Feb—Sat 7 Mar (free preview, Tue 70 Feb), Quartet is in the Circle Studio, Thu 72 Feb—Sat 7 Mar (free preview, Wed 77 Feb)
NEW PLAY The Chic Nerds
Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, Tue 17 Feb—Sat 7 Mar. (Free previews Fri 13— Sun 15 Feb).
More than just a rock 'n' roll cliche: The Chic Nerds
’I’ve never been in a band,’ admits Ronan O'Donnell. 'I’m totally unmusical.’ Musical talent has never been a pre-requmte for a career in rock ’n’ roll, but fortunately, O'Donnell has no plans to pick up a gunar and thrash his way to stardom. His debut play The Chic Nerds does however take the cliches of rock 'n' roll as its starting pOint.
The Chic Nerds are a band on the verge Of diSintegration In a bid to rebUIld their waning success, their manager spirits them off to a mansion in the Highlands, allegedly to write new songs. As things turn out, his real plans are more ambitious . . .
'The storyline is one that’s common to a lot of rock stories,’ says O’Donnell, 'The neurotic lead man who disintegrates, the manager who‘s a control freak — these are cliches. But if you use language in an exoting way, you can rework those cliches.’
So what is the piece getting at? ’It's playing about With a lot of ideas,' O'Donnell explains. ’In a way, it's about absence: the way the media
works so that important, and absolutely trIVIal.
’Forgetting and remembering is also part of it. In a way, our culture is about not havmg a cultural memory; but there's also a need for an artist to forget in order to be creative'
The Chic Nerds may be complex, but its characters are colourful One inspiration was Richey Edwards, gmtarist With the Manic Street Preachers, who carved '4 REAL' into his arm With a razor blade, and later disappeared Without trace ’lt’s not his story,’ says O'Donnell, 'but he is an influence on It. You find somebody real who had all these peculiar traits and it gives it a whole new sense.‘
The play should also be funny, a fact O’Donnell attributes to his characters' use of metaphor. ’Glaswegians can relate something to something else in a crazy sort of way,‘ says O'Donnell ’That's probably where a lot of the hum0ur comes from, and I think people Will laugh at it,’ (Andrew Burnet)
the image is so the content is
EVERYONE'S A WINNER this fortnight, it seems. We'll begin with Andrea Hart, currently working at the Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow, where she recently finished The Ice House and will shortly appear in Quartet (see preview, left). Hart was astonished to learn she’d won a Special Jury Award for Achievement by an Actor at Sundance, Robert Redford’s festival of independent filmmaking, for her challenging role in Benson Lee's Miss Monday.
NEXT UP IS Glasgow-based director Lorenzo Mele, probably best known for directing Road Movie and Viper’s Opium for the Anglo-American company Starving Artists. Both shows won Fringe Firsts at the Edinburgh Festival. To those trophies, Mele can now add the 1997 Bruce Millar Drama Award, donated in memory of the late Bruce Millar by his father, Ainslie. The award enables Mele to take up a part-time post as trainee associate director at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre.
DANCE IS THE other big winner this fortnight. As reported in Agenda (see page 24), Edinburgh's Dance Base has just scooped a stout £43 million Lottery award, enabling it to build a new centre in the Grass- market. Dundee-based Scottish Dance Theatre also duets with Lady Luck, boasting a Lottery award of £95,000, to be used for choreo- graphic research, musical development, and in an apprentice ship scheme for young dancers.
YOUNGSTERS WITH A TASTE for the terpsichorean will also benefit from another new grant, this time from the private sector. British Energy's ’Ballet To Bairns’ scheme — which aims to prove nuclear power is good for children — is working with education business partnerships in Ayrshire, Glasgow and Lothian to distribute tickets for ballets to schools. So far pupils have been able to see performances by Northern Ballet Theatre and meet the cast. They're said to have given a glowing report of the scheme.
Winning ways: Andrea Hart
6—19 Feb l998 THE LIST 81