American Bagpipes Musselburgh: Brunton Theatre, until Sat 21 Mar *t‘k
Iain Heggie has reworked his ten-year- old play about the ugliness of family politics for its current run at the Brunton. But even in this version, he still seems stuck with the problem that as a stage family the Nauldies are never quite as obnoxious or shocking a creation as an audience might like them to be.
On the surface, their credentials look promising: cowed wife Rena bickers with her crass and cloying daughter Sandra, back from America to rescue Mum from wife-beating husband Willie. The trio are soon jOlﬁEd by ganeg criminal Patrick, the long-lost son who has returned home to unveil a book detailing his folks' multiple ’atrocities'.
After an uncertain start, the play brightens up with the entrance of Peter Grimes' nervy, eccentric Patrick, and for a while it appears that Heggie’s disparate ideas will come together to create a stylish, black sit-com feel.
But the sharp timing demanded by his staggering, overlapping dialogue would be hard for any cast to master, and this one can only carry it off sporadically. Presumably an attempt at naturalism, these bolts of conversation — isolating all our 'l's, ‘but's and 'that's — simply heighten the play's air of uncontrolled whimsy.
Occupying a bland sitting-room set that gradually fills up with featureless
Feuding frenzy (clockwise from top left): John Yule, Peter Grimes, Julie Duncanson and .lo Cameron Brown in American Bagpipes
furniture, the family’s rowing is too bloodless to carry an emotional charge. When the tension finally does spill out in Act Two, we’re treated to one- dimensional fisticuffs that fail to trouble Sandra and Rena and fail to affect anyone else.
American Bagpipes could be a tough but witty reflection on family purgatory, or a full-blown, Surreal farce. But falling in some uncharted territory between the two, Heggie’s ’most troublesome’ work is full of fine ideas that can’t thrive while locked together in the same play. (Chris Small)
CONTEMPORARY DANCE Blind Faith
Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, Fri 27 Mar ***‘k The titles of choreographer Yolande Snaith’s recent work dovetail intriguingly round notions of sight and trust. In Blind Faith (seen at The Place Theatre in London), Snaith draws on Renaissance anatomical experiments, religious ritual, sacred dance and Da Vinci’s art for inspiration. Only Stanley Kubrick knows what motivates his long-awaited next film, Eyes Wide Shut, but cinema’s painstaking genius was so impressed by Snaith's dances for the camera that he hired her to be his movement director. Sadly she’s sworn to secrecy about Kubrick’s script. ln Blind Faith, Snaith's own carefully prepared, collaborative modus operandi yields some rich rewards. First off, it looks gorgeous. A banqueting table is anchored on a vibrant red carpet centre stage, a pale male 'corpse’ sprawled across it. Four comically mismatched figures — sturdy, ginger-ringletted Snaith and three men - enter ceremonially in furry, floor- length coats and fuss with the body. Then he comes to life, and so does the piece.
The quintet walk or race round, vault over and roll under the table in a deadpan game of supremacy. They shed their hairy skins and writhe about the floor; manipulate each other’s alternately inert and electrified bodies; and strike some dramatic, tableau-like poses a laLast Supper. It all leads to a frenetic climax, loaded with expansive
,5 1, ,,
Raising the dead: Yolande Snaith resurrects Paul Clayden in Blind Faith
leaps, by which time the cast are clad in handsome, silvery pyjamas.
Blind Faith is beautiful and busy, but occasionally boring: Snaith’s eye for design may supersede her talent for movement invention. Still, the use of repetitive kinetics reinforces the piece’s strong, not to say indelible, look and style. Snaith cleverly activates the human forms familiar from devotional art, then weaves them into a visual statement about the nature of spiritual magic. Kubrick sure knows how to pick 'em. (Donald Hutera)
:;:-T;:H;:‘E N Y
An Original Stage Play by Iain Heggie
'BOX‘OFFICE 0131 665 2240
20 Mar—2 Apr 1998 THE LIST 61