ADAPTATION The Fall Of The House Of Usher
Glasgow: Citizens' Circle Studio, until Sat 17 Oct it it s
American gothic horror meister Edgar Allan Poe's most renowned short story tells of an onlooker’s chilling encounter with the fag end of a doomed and twisted dynasty. Our narrator, ’The Traveller’, is summoned to the brooding mansion of Roderick Usher, a childhood friend he hasn't seen in years — and probably with good reason, as Usher is hardly a barrel of laughs — in order to provide companionship to the ailing, depressed bachelor.
Jon Pope’s adaptation, design and direction turn this murky psychological parable into cybergoth melodrama, presumably for the sake of injecting the grim fairy tale with potential to entertain.
The set is impressive and oppressive. The family tomb is the centrepiece, a reminder of Poe's worst fear and favourite topic — burial alive, which features in this tale. The audience are themselves entombed in black brick walls. The ceiling is cracked from end to end — the 'barer perceptible fissure’ of the original text made larger than life, and complemented by equally overstated acting. James Duke, who could put the ham in Hammer horror, plays Roderick Usher as a cross between Caliban, the Elephant Man and Basil Fawlty, While Lorna McDevitt as the cataleptic Madeleine — the only other surViVing Usher — does a fine line in Norma Desmond posturing.
The horror. the horror: James Duke with Jay Manley in The Fall Of The House Of Usher
The hour-long production is neither Stephen King chiller nor Roger Corman ramp and walks a fine line between inventive realisation of Poe's landscape of the mind, and ridiculous pseudo- comic Addams Family values. Rather than building an atmosphere of menace, it remains a perplexing experience until the final abrupt fright ensures that, in one respect at least, The Fall Of The House Of Usher brings the house down every night.
DUOLOGUE Rameau’s Nephew
Glasgow: Citizens' Stalls Studio, until 17 Oct
a One might need to be fairly cerebral to
fully appreciate Denis Diderot's obscure 18th century text. This adaptation of the tale — co-translated and directed by Phoebe Van Held — presents a meeting between a philosopher (known only as Mai — me) and the eponymous composer’s kin (Lur — him).
The tension at the heart of the play is created by the disparate personalities: the staical and ultimately conservative philosopher, and his wastrel counterpart, a mUSICIan who boasts of Iivmg on his Wits.
Interspersed With snatches of Rameau’s composmons, the dialogue proposes much to ponder. ’A fool,’ asserts Lui, 'is more likely to be Wicked than a man of intelligence' This Will give you an idea of the general nature of the piece, which tends to paint With words, rather than actions. The set is bare, but for a table at the very centre of the two-sided space. This leaves the actors (Alexandra Belcourt as Mai and Candida Benson as LUI) With little to do but circle around it, like goldfish in a too-small bowl.
The casting of women in male roles is often a rewarding theatrical experiment, forcing audiences to reconsider the nature of gender roles. But here there is implaUSIbility.
Wild youth: Candida Benson as Lui in Rameau's Nephew
Women, we all know, resolve conflict differently from men, not with this adversarial approach to argument — so some of the role-playing seems forced.
This said, the performers toil manfully, if you will, with their roles. Benson, with the overpainted face of a period fop, works well with a strenuous role, restraining the hysteria to Which her character is driven by the cool probing of Belcourt, who also impresses With a more static character. (Steve Cramer)
DRAMA HIGHLIGHTS THIS AUTUMN...
The Master and Margarita
Kaos Theatre UK Fri 9 & Sat 10 Oct, 7.30pm, £6/£2
’Dazzling, dramatic and vibrant’ The Scotsman ’Brilliantly adapted from the Bulgakov novel’ The Times
Hoipolloi Wed 21 Oct, 7.30pm, 26/522
’50 ingenioust and deliciously inventive that it’s hard to do it justice in words’ The Independent On Sunday
Frantic Assembly Tue 27 & Wed 28 Oct, 7.30pm, £6l£2
’Frantic are attracting a generation more at home in clubs back to the theatre’ The Scotsman
by Nicola McCartney
Tue 13 - Sat 17 Oct 8.00pm . Tickets £6.50/£3.50
“there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America” President Bill Clinton
Wed TA - Sat 17 Oct 7.30pm Tickets £6.50/£3.50 Matinee Sat 17 Oct 2pm £5/£2.50
“...takes true stories drawn from personal travel journals, and reframes them as a provocative collage of spoken text, movement and music. "
box office 0141 221 4001
8—22 Oct 1998 THE UST 65