Edinburgh: Royal Lyceum Theatre, Fri 30 Oct—Sat 21 Nov.
When stories of stars like Madonna and Jodie Foster being stalked hit the headlines, most of us feel safe in the knowledge that such nightmares are the blight of the rich and famous, or at least of other people.
But buy a ticket for this new production of The Collector and you might get a little closer to the shadowy presence of the stalker than is comfortable. This co- production between the Royal Lyceum and Derby Playhouse is based on John Fowles’ eerily up-to- date 605 novel of the same name. Adapter Mark Healy has updated the story of an unassuming clerk and butterfly collector who stalks and kidnaps a young upper-middle class art student after a Pools win.
Seedy Frederick Clegg’s windfall becomes a Lottery win in this version, while his victim Miranda is an art student of a later generation - for whom the 605 is an era to be plundered for style ideas. But for 29-year-old Healy, the central
Woman’s worst nightmare: Mark Letheren and Danielle Tilley in The Collector
premise of Fowles' psychological thriller remains intact.
‘I think one of the reasons Fowles gave me the rights to the book is that I've kept it very faithful,’ he surmises. ’It's the perpetrator who tells the story, so you get inside his head whether you like it or not.’
As Healy admits, this is not everyone’s idea of entertainment. 'I don’t see this as a piece people are going to necessarily enjoy,’ he says. ’It’s a real experience: you're getting inside someone who is on the verge of evil, and that is very unpleasant.’ Unpleasant maybe, but compelling nonetheless. Like Fowles, Healy toys with the audience’s emotions by making us intimate with a character we know we
'What attracted me to the piece was nothing to do with the thriller element,’ explains Healy. 'It was the fact that you end up sympathising with the so-called criminal, and resenting the way he’s treated by this quite priggish, naive art student who thinks she knows it all.’
This certainly stretches the boundaries of political correctness, but Healy is unrepentant: 'One of the attractions about Fowles is that he completely dissects the male psyche. A lot of women don't like his work for that, but the character of Clegg is hardly an advert for men. It's a woman’s worst nightmare. But in many ways it’s a man's darkest fantasy and that becomes very
harrowing.’ (Ellie Carr)
NEW SHOW Sell Out
Paisley Arts Centre, Tue 27 & Wed 28 Oct. Stirling: MacRobert Arts Centre, Fri 30 Oct.
If you’ve seen any shows by Frantic Assembly, the word 'fluffy' probably won’t leap to mind. Currently on tour with a new show, Sell Out, the company more often attracts descriptions like ’vibrant’, or ’in-your- face’. But ’fluffy'?
Well, that's how performer Stephen Hoggett describes Zero, Frantic’s last show, seen at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1996, and elsewhere in Scotland during the past year. ’It was all about people being mates and that,’ explains Hoggett, a 26-year-old Yorkshireman who co-founded Frantic six years ago, while studying in Swansea, where the company is still based.
Zero was the third part of Frantic’s Generation Trilogy, which teased audiences with an intriguing cocktail of real and fabricated confessional. The performers used their real names, drew on real-life experience, and challenged the audience to believe they were talking directly about themselves. Which they were -- sometimes.
’With this one, we still wanted to have that ambiguity between performer and personal relationship,’ says Hoggett. ’But the main thing was i to make the show a bit darker’ So instead of affirming friendship, Sell Out looks at all the ways friendship can be undermined by betrayal, selfishness or misunderstanding.
Another departure for Frantic was the decision to introduce a narrative - the Generation shows were held together by theme more than story. ’We wanted people to emotionally engage Wllh the work,’ explains Hoggett. 'You can't really expect that, unless the i performers have gone on some kind of i
NATIONAL REVIEW OF LIVE ART
Bobby Baker: Table Occasion No.9 Glasgoszrches Theatre, Fri 23 Oct.
Table manners: Bobby Baker gets the groceries in
68 THE lIST 22 Oct-S Nov 1998
This weekend, Glasgow plays host to the dizzying array of performances and installations that is the National ReView of Live Art (NRLA).
Launched in 1979, the biennial festival brings protects from all over the world. Its significance in the arena of contemporary arts is such that curator Robert Ayers compares it to the Albert Hall Proms or the Cup Final Seminal figures and organisations who have graced the NRLA include Derek larman, lvlona Hat0um, OV8 and Forced Entertainment, This year’s performances meld Visual art With theatre and stand-up comedy With kung-fu and cookery,
Nothing if not esoteric, performance art is often dismissed as pretentious and self-indulgent. Bobby Baker, the highly acclaimed artist and performer whose latest piece, Tab/e Occasion No. 9, promises to be a highlight, is adamant about its relevance. ’This kind of work is very accessible to a very Wide range of people,’ she lliSlSlS ’It can raise serious points, and the general public tend to be extreine'y open-iiiinded and receptive '
Baker’s exuberant one-woman shows examine our daily rituals
shopping, cooking and mealtimes. ’It can be funny, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its serious, political side,’ she says. ’I’ve found that peOple laugh and cry.’ Baker concedes that there is a pretentious element in performance art, but adds that verbal descriptions often don’t do it iustice. ’Art speaks a language of its own,’ she says.
Trained as a painter, Baker undeiwent a revelation on baking a cake which she laughineg calls, ’a piece of art — of similar stature to a Rodinl’ She continues to employ food to explore family relationships and female creatiVity, FGJGCllllg both traditional media and the notion of art as durable, saleable commodity.
Tab/e Occasion offers a unique perspective on the rituals of social interaction, and continues Baker's ongomg [)TOJCCI of recognising the delight and the poignanCy in the things we take for granted. True to the spirit of the NRLA, slie promises surprises. Like the very best dinner parties, this festival should challenge, delight and stimulate (Hannah MtCnll)
The National Rewew Of Live Art runs at the Arches, Fri 23 Sun 25 Oct.
To aSSISI With this new direction 5 Frantic called in a playwright, Michael Wynne, best known for The Knocky, which was performed to acclaim at London’s Royal Court. The reSult is a proper play, in which the actors talk to each other rather than the audience, even if much of the source material did come from the performers themselves.
The tour continues for another eight months. Let’s hope the company's offstage relationships stay as fluffy as ever. (Andrew Burnet)
Sell Out is a: the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, next March
Learning to hate his mates: 1
Stephen Hoggett as seen in Zero i