Glasgow: Citizens’ Theatre, until Sat 7 Ma****
Power corrupts. It's a cliche, right? A tired, dog-eared, shagged-out, hackneyed, knock-kneed groaner. Except in Robert David MacDonald’s intelligent production of Macbeth, power is cast as a literally corrupting force. With political gain comes an inevitable decrepitude.
As the tragedy opens, Duncan (Bill McGuirk) is an old man and it shows. Gerard Murphy's Macbeth, meanwhile, although middle-aged and visibly spreading is still the valiant, lusty, energetic soldier familiar from most productions. Indeed, the early scenes with Lady Macbeth (Anne Myatt) - in which the two goad each other to bloody action - have an explicit eroticism about them that links youthful
sexual energy with political ambition. Like a long-married couple
seasoning the conjugal bed with a little risk and danger, they seem to get off on their own wickedness and daring. Later, with Duncan dead and the crown seized, something of a post-coital comedown sets in and their scenes lose their sexual edge.
But this is no surprise. Almost as soon as he takes the throne, Macbeth seems to succumb to time. In the final scenes especially — enfeebled beneath a blanket, groaning, sore-boned and stiff — he is under seige from age as much as from Malcolm's forces. Lady Macbeth, played with such black-hearted verve in the first half, becomes quieter, wearier and more marginalised the longer she wears her new royal robes. Her off-stage death is as inevitable as dust blown on the wind.
MacDonald emphasises the bitter ashes of victory, the ghastly realities of political struggle and the temporary nature of power. As Macbeth and Banquo vie for the
Young blood: Gerard Murphy and Anne Myatt in the sexually charged early scenes
regal bloodline one thinks of Brown and Blair rutting over the still-warm corpse of John Smith; Macbeth's slaughtered political enemies stalk gruesomer through this production like zombies from Night Of The Living Dead; and a blood-soaked coda leaves no doubt that Malcolm's triumph has been won at awful human cost.
This is a stylish and considered production which seems to take a while to hit its stride. The first quarter is a little stilted, the players seemingly in awe of the text and declaiming rather than speaking to each other. Oddly, Gerard Murphy seems most relaxed when spotlit during the famous soliloquies. However, Kenny Miller's set - somewhere between the Underworld and a seedy 19205 nightclub — is terrific, and the strength of ideas throughout is highly admirable. (Peter Ross)
Glasgow: Citizens' Theatre, until Sat 7
kind of way. Mar at i 15'
Beckett-like routine, MUIIer seems to STA“ MUNGS suggest that no matter who calls the ng‘sﬂe shots in the relationship, the game “it WW 3 shot Liaising dangerously: Andrea Hart Stays the same. ** ' Below average in Quartet Described as a 'reflex on the problem * YOU'VE been warned
perverse love story, it's not in the traditional, boy-meets-girl, gets wed, has babies and lives-happily-ever-after
Catapulting Merteuil and Valmont - the principal characters of Les Liaisons Dangereuses ~ from the French Revolution to what looks like a bunker after World War III, the action focuses on a psycho-sexual battle between the couple from hell. The end result offers some comfort to those who spent Valentine's Day alone.
Awaking astride each other under a cloud of post-apocalyptic dust, the lovers play out a repetitive and elabOrately structured dance up the garden path, until the siren rings for time out. Then, with another flash of light, it’s time for round two as the duo swap roles, taking it in turns as hunter and hunted. Alternately vulnerable and vindictive, they delight in tearing chunks off each other yet seem powerless to walk away. Through four permutations of the same rigid,
of terrorism' (not that you'd guess it) this jaundiced portrayal of a couple‘s existence grows increasingly claustrophobic, and as the tension builds it becomes all too apparent that the results will be catastrophic.
With bare floorboards under row upon row of coloured lightbulbs, Nigel Lowery’s production is full of sensual restraint as the lovers play out a highly charged game of seduction and rejection. Gerrard McArthur and Andrea Hart — who recently scooped an acting award at the Sundance Film Festival for Miss Monday — turn in mesmerising performances, bringing out all the venomous passion of a couple who should get themselves down to the divorce courts pronto.
And while it’s queer as eels, Muller's study of a couple in the grips of a brutal power-struggle makes for heavy going but thorougth absorbing stuff. (Claire Prentice)
ABSURDIST COMEDY Krapp's Last Tape
Glasgow: Citizens’ Stalls Studio, until Sat 7 Mar * it i *
You can rely on Samuel Beckett to make the human predicament agonisingly funny. In this case, the predicament is that of an old man, alone and wizened, the reluctant slave to twin addictions: booze and bananas. Krapp stores his memories in the form of tape recordings made each year on his birthday and fussin catalogued with corresponding snapshots.
Preparing to make his 69th (and — the title implies - final) tape, he digs out a 30-year-old spool, reviving memories of middle age and youth which delight, confuse and horrify him. The result is archetypal Beckett: hugely entertaining, unflinchineg cruel, deeply human.
You can rely on Giles Havergal — the Citizens’ artistic director, who plays the solo role — to make intelligent, enjoyable work of this material. Gaunt and unshaven, his Krapp is quietly resigned to his fate, pursuing neither laughs nor pathos, but allowing the humour and pain to chart their own course.
What you can't rely on in this production — jointly directed by Havergal and Jon Pope — is the absolute adherence to the letter that Peter Brook embraced for his recent French production of Beckett's Happy Days. Pope's design — which centres on a sturdy, Ikea-style table — is particularly surprising, given the gothic and baroque imagery which usually marks his shows.
The pair have have made Krapp a very normal-looking fellow: Beckett’s rusty black suit and narrow white boots have been abandoned in favour of a more neutral outfit. Instead of popping corks in the darkness, Havergal's Krapp takes slugs from beer cans, visible to a small portion of the audience. Most offensive to purists, this interpretation abandons the banana-skin pratfall, stifling a whole realm of slapstick resonances.
It's ludicrous these days to argue that Shakespeare should only be performed in Elizabethan costume, but the rehabilitation of a Beckett hero is strangely disconcerting. Then again, it forces us to regard him as one of us, and perhaps that's what Pope and Havergal are after. (Andrew Burnet)
One of us: Giles Havergal as Krapp
20 Feb—S Mar 1998 TIIE LIST 81