NEW PLAY Heritage Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, Tue
20—Sat 24 Oct. Reduced price previews, Fri l6—Sun 18 Oct
‘This is the play I always felt I would never write. I didn‘t really feel the need to talk about it when I was younger. I thought it was dull and boﬁng!
Nicola McCartney is talking about her first commission for Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre: Heritage, an Irish Protestant/Catholic emigre Romeo- and-Juliet story set in Canada against the backdrop of World War I.
Over the past four years, as co- founder and joint artistic director of LookOut Theatre Company, McCartney has penned a succession of acclaimed plays, the last of which, Transatlantic, is still touring. Now the Belfast-born 26-year-old also has a commission from the National Theatre.
Historical conflict: Iona Carbams in Heritage
Heritage doesn't attempt to give solutions. It examines
Although McCartney's own parents weren’t politically inclined, her mother's family was vehemently Unionist, while her paternal grandfather was a Communist and Nationalist. As a teenager, McCartney became involved in cross-community activities, before moving away to Scotland at eighteen.
‘Northern Ireland isn't just about sectarianism,‘ she says. ‘It can be a very warm environment, but it's also incredibly repressive. There‘s great pressure to conform religiously, socially and morally. I was quite desperate to get away from it. Coming to Scotland made me more aware of where it is you come from, and why you behave the way you do.’
Returning to Belfast after university made McCartney acutely aware of the culture and its environment. Then a family friend was shot eight times in front of his child. And then her father was almost killed in a bomb
the origins and primal nature of the conflict. ‘I‘m looking at a very raw situation through a historical perspective to make it less raw,‘ explains McCartney. ‘Heritage is also about exile, and the nature of conflict and tribalism, just as much as it is specifically about Northern Ireland. There's a myth that also works its way throughout the play.‘
Some of her characters‘ lines were painful to write. '1' he hatred and bigotry pervade absolutely everything,‘ she says. ‘Northern Irish people would hate me saying this, but they cannot discuss Northern Ireland without reverting to conflict. Everything boils down to whether he‘s a Protestant and she‘s a Catholic.’
Lately, McCartney has noticed a change - though perhaps not quite at the pace that most people would like. ‘People have begun to realise that you have to stop thinking always about what was,‘ she says.
explosion . . .
Edinburgh: Royal Lyceum, Thu 8—Sat 24 Oct
‘Any young woman would want to
meet Zola': Jennifer Black as seen in the Lyceum's sex comedy Dead Funny
For men who believe female sexual response is best evoked with six pints of Stella, a timely reminder about female sexuality: the Communicado/ Lyceum co-production of Zola's classic novel, adapted by Stuart Paterson.
Director Jennifer Black, whose Communicado production of the same script in 1992 brought acclaim, is amazed by Zola’s understanding of exactly what gets the fair sex’s motor running. ’There is so much in the novel about women’s sexualrty,’ she enthuses. ’Any young woman who read this book would be amazed — and want to meet Zola.’
The last sentence is almost purred. Why? Simple. ’Zola understood that women do have a sexuality,’ adds Black. ’At that time, late in the 19th century, women weren’t supposed to enjoy sex.’
If you want evidence that they do, try this intense eternal triangle narrative. Therese (Clare McCarron) finds herself trapped in a passionless marriage with husband Camille (Billy Boyd, fresh from his performance in Britannia Rules). Along comes Laurent (Seamus Gubbins), who becomes her
lover, and as the pressure increases on their obsessive relationship, an inevitable murder plot ensues. As Black points out, this was the inspiration for The Postman Always Rings Twice — among endless other movie plots.
'At the time, Zola's novel was called "putrid Iiterature” and "a quagmire of blood and slime",’ Black reminds us. ’But he called himself a scientist, and said it was ab0ut observing human nature.’ Black has taken her cue from this suggestion of universality and given the show a modern setting. 'We're trying to get a timeless quality, not specrfically in period,’ she explains.
Asked how this production differs from her 1992 version, she remarks, ’lain Johnstone, who composed the music, performs it on stage. But the big difference is practical - we performed it on a much smaller set, since we did it on tour. This time there’s a bigger space, which can become what we want it to become. There's even a riverbank scene.’ One wonders what goes on there. Maybe it’s a scene girls can enjoy, and boys learn from. (Steve Cramer)
Health and fitness on Scotland‘s stages.
AS COMMUNICADO WAITS for a Scottish Arts Council (SAC) verdict over funding, former artistic director Gerry Mulgrew has added more fuel to a blazing row. After Mulgrew quit Communicado this summer - a response to internal power struggles - the SAC expressed doubt over the company‘s entitlement to the remainder of its four-year franchise funding, awarded last year. Questions were raised as to whether the company would still merit its high level of public funding in the absence of Mulgrew’s distinctive artistic leadership. Now Mulgrew has written to The Stage, the theatre industry’s national weekly paper, insisting that the SAC's funding was a direct result of his own reputation and artistic strategy. A response from the company is awaited.
MORE TROUBLE TOO for the beleagured Wildcat Stage Productions, which lost its SAC grant when franchise funding was introduced last year. Artistic director Dave Anderson was to have toured in a new comedy musical, Delirious, but has had to postpone the show after falling ill. The company's hugely successful revival of The Celtic Story — which Anderson co-wrote and appeared in - has been cited as the cause of Anderson‘s exhaustion. The List wishes him a speedy return to heahh.
HEALTH IS ALSO at stake for Fife’s Majick Men Theatre Company, which has been awarded funding by the Health Education Board for Scotland (HEBS), to perform a production of The Normal Heart in Edinburgh on World Aids Day (1 Dec). Written by American playwright Larry Kramer in 1985, The Normal Heart is one of the earliest and most effective studies of the period when the condition first emerged. Majick Men are currently touring schools, using The Normal Heart as part of a health education programme. The Edinburgh performance will be for an invited audience of potential sponsors, local schools and MPs.
Delirioust tired: Wildcat's Dave Anderson M if; r ‘“‘“‘"“"‘“",.,. a
8—22 Oct I998 THE lIST 61