Glasgow: Tramway, Tue 3—Sat 7 Feb. Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, Thu lZ—Sat 14 Feb.

The past twelve months have been good times for Suspect Culture. Last year, the Glasgow-based company was invited to create Timeless for the Edinburgh International Festival, which propelled it to the front rank of Scotland’s board-treaders, and acknowledged its international aspirations. Then, in the autumn, the Scottish Arts Council endorsed the company’s status by awarding it four years’ worth of franchise funding at £70,000 per year. Formed by actor/director Graham Eatough and playwright David Greig who met as students in Bristol Suspect Culture returns this fortnight with a revamped

version of Timeless. It will have its Glasgow premiere at Tramway, the venue which co-commissioned it.

A deceptively simple tale of four old friends who get together after years pursuing different lifestyles, Timeless is a wistful, melancholic piece. Its theme is the effect of time on relationships and there are dark allusions to a formative experience shared by the

foursome years ago.

’The starting points were actually formal,’ explains Eatough, who conceived and directed the show. ’They were to do with the four performers of a string quartet and the mixture of music and gesture and dialogue.’

The four actors are mirrored by a quartet of musicians, and the score - by long-term collaborator Nick Powell - is integral to the piece. So too is the style of performance, which employs repetition and gesture to create a heightened dramatic texture.

’When you’re doing work that isn’t so-called naturalistic, that does ask the audience to try a little bit

Remembrance of things past: K


accessible to a

’We want to

personal,’ he sa exclusive way.

a laugh. (Andrew

ate Dickie (foreground), Keith Macpherson, y lnnes and Paul Thomas Hickey in Timeless

harder, it’s important to make emotional contact,’ says Eatough. Suspect Culture has a stated aim to be

wide audience, and the plan is to

improve Timeless in that direction.

make it less abstract and less

repetitious,’ says Eatough. ‘There needs to be more revelation about the night that they all shared.’

On some levels, One reference point was Eatough and Greig’s decade- long friendship; while company members were encouraged to add their own experiences to the mix. But Eatough -is clearly uncomfortable with the idea that this is staged autobiography. ’What we were keen to avoid all the way through was making it too

Timeless is a highly personal piece.

ys. ’There has to be an element of

universality. It can't be esoteric or personal in an

‘We didn't want Friends onstage,’ he concludes, with

Bu rnet)


Glasgow: Tron Theatre, Thu 5~Sat 28 Mar.

Your move: Andy Gray. Fiona Bell and John Bett in Mate In Three

Italians do it better: food, sex, cars, all three at once You name it, some cool cat with olive skin and world-class hair is doing it better than you. Except that, in contemporary drama, Italy is experiencing a creative drought, With most new plays written off as hapless Pirandello clones.

Into this dusty amphitheatre as sole challenger to Nobel Prizewmner Dario Fo comes Vittorio Franceschi’s Mate In Three, first performed in Italy in 1990 and receivmg its UK premiere at the Tron. A three-hander dealing with madness, imagination, love, joy and despair, it drove Italian audiences and critics wild, scooped a Ferrari-ful of awards and has been filmed. This production is directed by Irina Brown and features an original score by Chris Thomson and Martin Hodgson of The Bathers.

Two brothers live together uneasily. Antonio has regressed to an infantile state, the result of a hinted-at accident. Valerio juggles running the family business and looking after his brother He has little time for himself, but has become engaged. When fiancee Marianna moves in, all three lives are

Significantly altered as the two brothers fight to take the queen

The plot is slight, but poetic language and ship-pitching tonal shifts promise an unsettling, rnovrng experience. Within five minutes of reading this 'Symphony Of human existence’ Irena Brown was on the blower to Italy chasmg the rights

'l was shaking when I put the script down,’ she confesses 'lt’s one of the richest, most multi-layered plays l have read in years. I felt I was flying'

Originally from St Petersburg, Brown was staff director at the Royal National Theatre in 1986-7, and became artistic director of the Tron in 1996. Last year, she directed Alexei Shipenko’s absurdist drama Lavochkin - 5, a production some considered obscure, Brown believes Mate In Three is deeply appropriate to its audience.

’Glasgow's probably the only city outside Italy where you could have people named Valerio and Antonio,’ she says. 'Mate In Three is about here; it‘s about now; it’s round the corner You don’t need a deep understanding of European literature.’ (Peter Ross)

Stage whispers

At last - some theatre gossip from below the belt. . .

SOME ACTORS WILL do anything to make sure they get the best costume. Joshua Henderson, who plays jaded rock 'n’ roll star Riki Strange in The Chic Nerds at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, is required to appear onstage wearing a pair of women’s undergarments. Not content with Marks & Spencer, he spent several hours perusing the lingerie sections of Fraser’s and La Senza on Princes Street, before selecting the garment which he felt would show off his curves to the best advantage. Mr Henderson has kindly agreed to raffle said scants when the show finishes. Err. . . thanks, Josh.

DARREN DAY CLEARLY needs to review his own underwear situation, if reports from the first-night audience for Summer Holiday are to be believed. When the show opened at Edinburgh Playhouse on Wed 11 (see review, page 63), Day’s member- ship of the lads' team was displayed more prominently than might have been desired. Strangely, certain female theatre-goers seemed less perturbed by this than the cocky star.

DAY TURNS TO NIGHT for Edinburgh theatre company Wiseguise, which has thrown in the towel after nearly five years struggling along without regular funding. Led by four Scots actors - Frank Gallagher, Kenneth Glenaan, Martin McCardie and Jim Twaddale the company produced a total of eleven plays, enjoying major success with Mike Cullen’s The Cut and Jimmy Murphy’s Brothers Of The Brush, which won a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Festival in 1995. Happily, the founding members are all in gainful employment.

BUBBLE TROUBLE ahead over the Perrier Award for comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe. Comedian Stewart Lee - who has never won a Perrier Award, despite countless visits to the Fringe - recently declared the whole shebang to be ’against the spirit of the Edinburgh Festival’, and threatened to organise a boycott of the Award, which certainly won’t improve his chances.

Joshua Henderson: feeling the pinch?

20 Feb—S Mar 1998 THE U3T59