ARTS CENTRE Night Sullied Flesh

Wed I I February "Strong writing. ludicrous wit... a gay man's Dadaistic Trainspotting" The Scotsman 7.30pm, tickets (2 / (6

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66 THE LIST 6—19 Feb 1998




lvlusselburgh: Brunton Theatre, until Sat 14 Feb *1! at s

The obsession with war, ambition and hierarchy at the heart of Macbeth is brought into a contemporary arena in this fine production by David Mark Thomson. In a world where technology and the supernatural compete, rifles and revolvers replace broadswords, ‘live footage from the front’ replaces messengers, and screeching mobile phones become the tools of political plotters.

The play opens with the war in progress, beamed out on grainy, failing TV screens showing bloodied soldiers, missiles and rubble - immediately acknowledging the Bosnian and Gulf conflicts as reference points.

The Weird Sisters are now underworld bag ladies, transfixed by the footage. Like the 'surgical strikes' broadcast via CNN during the Gulf War, the technology is a brief diversion from real destruction.

Here, Macbeth and Banquo are robust, khaki-clad soldiers, physically stonger than the frail Duncan and his besuited civil servants, who rub their chins and fret over a war they view from a safe bunker. The appalling strategy and spin these men use to mastermind murder seems to ask whether Duncan (or all of them) don’t deserve their fate. If we still want men to kill for us, how can we criticize when they can't stop?

The production is particularly lifted by two keynote scenes: the banquet, which progresses from aristocratic schmoozing to the ultimate shattering of social protocol as Macbeth accosts the horrified diners; and the final, painstakingly choreographed assault on the anti-hero.

Liam Brennan’s Macbeth is a compelling triumph, controlling the language with admirable passion. Cara

COMEDY Still Game

Touring at at at

Three old codgers gather in a Glasgow high-rise flat, niaiooned by a dodgy lift. They bicker over biscuits, Jacques Cousteau and overuse of the electric bar heater They reflect gloomily on offspring, funerals and the privations of old age.

When the lift shudders back to life, each reluctantly contributes to a kitty for a wee carryout. With Victor, the host, dispatched to the offie, his two guests lack and Winsth make an unexpected dISCOVery, This - coupled With an alcoholic loosening of tongues ~ leads to some increaSingly intimate

Minding the days (left to right): Greg Hemphill, Ford Keirnan and Paul Riley in Still Game


'A compelling triumph': Liam Brennan as Macbeth

Kelly as Lady Macbeth complements Brennan’s muscular dominance with an understated performance, and is particularly strong when portraying domestic life chez Macbeth. Indeed, many of the best scenes are those dwelling on the characters' interactions just beyond the front line of violence, plotting and remorse, where the personal can never be anything other than political.

Despite these successes, not all of the play's experiments quite work: Don Crerar’s doddery Duncan fails to convince, although the idea finally clicks into place with Macbeth’s mocking seizure of the wheelchair/throne. The rapid run through the text undoubtedly generates a charge; though it does occasionally compromise the characters' emotional reflection.

But ultimately, the cast handles Thomson's new spin on the play with impressive sensitivity and confidence, offering a fresh and provocative platform for language whose power will always be hard to diminish. (Chris Small)

revelations, many of them centring on past sexual accomplishments

As a Wistiul portrait of ordinary indIVIduals trying to make sense of their existence and inemOries, Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphills script is reasonably believable, though the characterisation is pretty than As a Just- for-laughs comedy it hits the spot fairly regularly - it was certainly greeted With plenty of laughs from a mostly mature audience at Musselburgh's Bruiiton Theatre. The trouble is, Still Game doesn’t really go anywhere.

Largely stitched together from

sketches written for BBCZ’s Pulp Video, the 75-minute script lacks coherent structure, and its optimistic climax arises from the most slender of plot developments. The production in which Kiernan, Hemphiil and Paul Riley are directed by Alan de Peiette A— is low 0n rhythm, meandering along at an unnecessarily geriatric pace. Of the three. performances, Kiernaii’s grult Jack is alone in Sustaining an elderly derneanour Hemphill and Riley have their moments, but the silver hairspray fails to age them convmcmgly

ReVIved for a Scottish tOur, StI/l Game

probably worked better in the smaller space of Gilded Balloon ll, where it was a hit of the 97 Edinburgh Fringe. Ultimately, it's an entertaining show and unless you‘re bothered by a dose of smut and SV/Gdflt?-\.Vt)f(i$ perfectly inoffenswe. But yOti couldn't call it

cutting edge or: any level iAndrew Burnett STAR RATINGS

e 4r sir r v Unmissable

at s a: it Very good

x r: sir Worth a shot

* 1! Below average

* You've been warned