Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, Wed l7—Sun 21 Jun.
There are ten commandments, seven deadly sins and three blind mice. But bespectacled bard John Hegley's current fascination is with the number five. ’I've got five books of poems, five senses, and I've got five bits of me - two arms, two legs and a head,‘ explains Hegley, with irresistible logic. ’I was drawing out a sort of five-pointed star, and it looks like a body, especially if you put a pair of glasses on the top point.’
The truth is, Hegley hasn‘t quite worked out what his experimental new piece will entail. ’I might just hold up five fingers and say, “that’s what the Spice Girls aren't any more",' he quips. in any case, the key word is ‘five'.
Or V, if you happen to be Roman. And that's not a non sequitur, if you'll forgive my Latin. Ancient Rome is one theme almost certain to feature in Five. 'l've always been
interested in Romans,’ offers Hegley. 'And I was thinking about the people who came after them, looking at the Roman roads, which would have been obviously way beyond their capabilities. It must have seemed like, “Who were these people?" - you know, these frightening peOple who had this ability. And probably worrying about when they were going to come back and give them a good hiding for the mess they'd made of them, taking the bricks out to make fireplaces and whatnot.’ There's also a good chance we'll be meeting a Samaritan, who happens by after Hegley’s been stabbed in a Roman street. Unluckily, he's a bad Samaritan. This character first appeared in Hegley's book Five Sugars Please, in a prose piece called ’Declaring Martian Law',
I came. I saw, they laughed: John Hegley in Five
which Hegley once discussed staging at the Traverse with former artistic director Ian Brown.
Something else to expect is audience participation, though it won’t be stingently enforced. 'The important thing is showing that that door is open,’ says Hegley.
Finally, there's a good chance Five will make us laugh. Never the most humourless of individuals, Hegley has explored writing and performance in less gag-bound fields over the past few years. But he's just got back from comedy festivals in Australia and New Zealand, where he has rediscovered a love of comedy. ‘lt’s made me remember how good it is when people laugh,’ he reflects. 'Stuff that drifts to some sort of punchline is quite a pleasure, really.‘ (Andrew Burnet)
Belle beneath the bells: Amaya Iglesias as Esmerelda
DANCEPLAY The Hunchback Of Notre Dame Glasgow: Theatre Royal, Tue l6—Sat 20 Jun. Disney's Hunchback Of Notre Dame encouraged a younger audience to take an interest in Victor Hugo's classic tale. Now Northern Ballet Theatre's winning team have brought it bawdin to the stage. But can a complex 19th century novel work as a dramatic ballet?
Choreographer Michael Pink thinks
82 TIIEIJST 11—25 Jun 1998
so. 'It’s such a strong stOry, with a lot about people who can't communicate — a gypsy girl who speaks by dancing, and the Hunchback, whose only way of communicating is body language. It‘s a perfect opportunity to convey inner turmoil through dance.’
Pink feels that the characters are broad and bold enough in the novel to be transferred to the dance stage without any sense of re-inventing them, unlike the radical and sometimes controversial versions of the classics produced by the company in recent years. ‘We also have the advantage
of a new symphonic score by Philip Feeney, which is reflective of the whole team's work on the piece. Like the other elements, it’s designed purely to advance the story and characterisations, and gives a real integrity to the work.’
Sets, lighting and make-up all played large roles in NBT's recent success with Dracula, and seem set to do so again with Hunchback. Pink used the classic Charles Laughton film in rehearsals to give the cast the atmosphere of the medieval roughness and humour, and though a cast of thousands isn't possible, gothic designs and theatrical boldness certainly are.
'We never choose a safe option,’ Pink asserts. 'Dramatic pieces are what we do best. We're not subscribing to abstract work — audiences respond to stories with a beginning, middle and end. Ultimately it's infinitely more rewarding to choreograph this sort of work.’
With a company renowned for its strong dramatic dancers, expect a blockbuster level of energy, but not a sweet and happy Disney-style ending — 'a shocking surprise' is what Pink suggests we be ready for. (Don Morris)
There’s no point denying it. . . the Edinburgh Festival is on its way.
lT'S AN lLL RUMOUR that doesn’t contain a gust of truth. After much speculation, Communicado Theatre Company's artistic director Gerard Mulgrew has announced his decision to quit the company, which he founded with Alison Peebles and Rob Pickavance in 1982. Whispers of personal infighting have been denied, but the bust-up seems to centre around Mulgrew's bid to become the organisation’s chief executive last year. Fire In The Basement, Mulgrew's final show for the company, will be presented at the Traverse Theatre as part of this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which releases its programme today (see Agenda page 21).
AMONG THOSE COMPANIES vying to step into Communicado’s shoes is Edinburgh's up-and-coming Grid lron Theatre Company, which won much acclaim at last year's Fringe with The Bloody Chamber , which was staged in Mary King's Close below the High Street. At this year’s Fringe, Grid Iron is planning to go underground again, with a devised show entitled Gargantua, to be staged over four floors of a disused counting house beneath the Central Library building on Edinburgh's George IV Bridge.
THE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL, meanwhile, has announced an early add-on to its programme, a new play for young people by Edinburgh-based Tom McGrath. Titled Rings Of Time, the play concerns 'the nature of dramatic tragedy', and will tour schools and other venues around the city this month, including a performance and discussion at St Bride's Centre on Wednesday 17 June. The project is accompanied by an education pack, relating it to Eugene O'Neill's More Stately Mansions, Pedro Calderon's Life Is A Dream, Albert Camus' Caligula and Jean Racine's Phedre, all of which will be performed at this year’s International Festival.
looking to the future: Gerard Mulgrew. who has decided to quit Communicado