DEVISED SHOW The Greyhound
Glasgow: Arches Theatre, Wed l4—Sat 17 Oct
What is it about America that fascinates us so? From skyscrapers to deserts, from the Big Mac to the Grand Canyon, it’s all a question of scale. Road movies have enshrined the romance of distance: America offers the possibility of escape, anonymity and endless roads.
Flexible Deadlock's new production The Greyhound Chronic/es grew out of director Steve Bottoms’ travel journals, compiled on several visits to the States. 'They range from Indian reservations, to Graceland, to people spotted in bus stations,’ he explains. 'Those fragments provided a basis for a performance that extends personal experience to give it a broader relevance.’
Bottoms performs with Sam MacGregor and Alison Reeves, who helped devise the piece. ’Their contribution keeps it from being self- indulgent autobiography,’ he says. ’We all come from different perspectives: I’m an Englishman living in Scotland who visits America; Sam is half-Scottish and half-American; Alison’s never been to America. We’re interested in that three-way relationship.’
Flexible Deadlock’s last two productions, The Scarlet Letter and The Tooth Of Crime merged performance art with traditional text-based theatre.
0n the road: Flexible Deadlock in The Greyhound Chronicles
Of the new production Bottoms says: 'There is a carefully worked-out script, and it is accessible on a storytelling level; but it incorporates music and movement. It's the most complete fusion of text and experimental performance we’ve achieved.’
A collage of images and stories, The Greyhound Chronic/es is about the America seen from bus windows and roadsides, but also about the relationships of three countries and three individuals. 'We're looking at America as a mirror; it reflects your own ideas of it,’ Bottoms elaborates.
And if, like David Hare, he could import a Hollywood star to tread the boards in his show, who would it be? Who else but the hero of countless trailerpark tragedies? Harry Dean Stanton. (Hannah McGill)
CLASSIC FARCE See How They Run
Edinburgh: King’s Theatre, Mon 19— Sat 26 Oct
Eew performers would claim their career was nearly derailed by a Singing dog, but Su Pollard does. Pollard — vrsrting Edinburgh in Philip King's farce See How They Run — was a young hopeful on Opportunity Knocks in 1973. Imagine her disappointment: relegated to second place by Harold Gumm and his Jack Russell terrier singing ’Oh What A Beautiful Morning'.
Pollard struggled on, finding work in
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llappy camper: Su Pollard in See How They Run
82 THE llST 8—22 Oct 1998
musicals, including Godspe/l, and eventually the television sitcom Hi-De- Hi. The rest is showbiz history. These days, she never lacks work, and Peggy the chambermaid is an international cult figure. ’l’m very proud of my association with that,’ she says, in her gushy Nottingham accent. ’I go out dancing and get all these 18-year-olds going, "oh, Hi-De-Hi!"’
In See How They Run — written and set during World War II — Pollard plays Miss Skillon, whom she describes as ’a pinched-faced church-goer from Hell, 3 real killjoy.’ Following an accident, Miss Skillon consumes too much medicinal sherry and loosens up considerably. To prepare for the role, party-girl Pollard indulged in a spot of method acting, recording her voice after a few tipples and studying the effects. 'I thought, oh blimey - is that what we sound like when we’re drunk?!‘ she laughs.
Other cast members include Hi-De-Hi co-star Jeffrey Holland, 705 sex symbol Britt Ekland and Victor Spinetti of Beatles films fame. ’lt's fabulous fun,’ says Pollard. 'The audience have to concentrate for the first fifteen minutes to get the plot, and from there on it just takes off like an express train.‘
Twenty years after the Opportunity Knocks incident came a revelation. On Simon Mayo’s Confessions programme, a retired headmaster admitted instructing ZOOO pupils to vote for the dog. Pollard laughs about it now. It's no longer a bone of contention. (Andrew Burnet)
NEW PLAY Handbag
Stirling: MacRobert Arts Centre, Thu 22—Sat 24 Oct
When a play opens with a man wanking into a teacup, you just know it's going to be interesting. The play in question is Handbag, and the man responsible for the striking imagery is Mark Ravenshill, author of Shopping And Fucking.
’I got the inspiration from Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest,’ he explains. ’The image of the baby being mistaken for a bundle of books is very funny and powerful. It's not the kind of thing that’s easily done is it? But it’s also quite disturbing, the idea of a baby being stuffed in a bag and left at a station.’
From this starting point, Ravenshill has created a dark, provocative and deeply funny portrait of parenting in
Sperm in a teacup: Andrew Scarborough and Faith Flint in Handbag
both Victorian and modern times. He raises questions about the qualities of good parents, and asks who the children are in our society, but leaves the audience to reach their own conclusions. ’I want people to go away and still be thinking about it days aften/vards.’ With opening scenes like that, it will be hard not to.
DEVISED SHOW Freaks
Edinburgh: Collective Gallery, Fri 2 & Sat 3 Oct. Stirling: MacRobert Arts Centre,
Fri 9 & Sat 10 Oct
Ask director Paul Pinson what Freaks is about and you’ll get a few moments
hesitation then, ’Hmm . . . tricky that.’
The third in a series of five new shows currently being created by Edinburgh’s Boilerhouse, Freak is made up of text, poetry and monologues from the pen of Sandie Craigie, although the final draft will not be finished until next year.
Video artist Angeline Ferguson is also working on the production, making it a multi-media piece. ’Freaks is still a working title but l think we’ll keep it,’ explains Pinson. ’lt’s a challenge. The word carries a lot with it.’
The three performers will each play a multitude of characters, all of whom are seen by society as outcasts of one form or another. ’What we’re really doing with this is holding up a mirror to the audience, because it’s all too easy to be judgemental, but we all have some of these characteristics ourselves,’ argues Pinson. ’lt’s just a question of recognizing them.’ (Kirsty Knaggs)
. . .And Nothing But The Truth . . .
Agatha Christie would be gobsmacked. Not only has V-TOL’s Mark Murphy taken the murder-mystery genre and turned it into an X-rated fusion of dance and film, he's done so without the aid of a single ageing sleuth.
Set in the aftermath of a heavy drink, drugs and sex sesh, . . . And Nothing But The Truth . . . tells the story of four friends who wind up with murder in their midst. Billed as a murder-mystery, it takes the classic route of a body, a roomful of suspects and an audience left to decide whodunnit.
As anyone familiar with Murphy’s work will guess, this is no dusty theatrical Cluedo. The action comes via a sophisticated blend of high-impact physical theatre, film and an actor/narrator who has the unusual
J'accuse: Christine Devanney in . . . And Nothing But The Truth . ..
task of playing a dead man. Neither is this another trendy exercise in multi-media excess. Murphy has been mining the rich seam of dance and film for over SIX years 7 now, and is fast becoming as skilled and astute a filmmaker as he is a Q
'lt felt very natural when I first started using film,’ concedes Murphy. ’lt’s very close to choreography. My work has become a kind of movmg picture' (Ellie Carr)
I For tour dates, see page 68.