Glasgow: Arches Theatre, until Sat 28 Nov a a ‘9‘:

Today's performing arts are marked by a dalliance between the floozy of theatre and the lothario of high technology - a coupling that has produced few cherubic lovechildren among many stillborn mutants.

It is thrilling, then, to see the Arches‘ resident company produce such a compelling affirmation of the creative possibilities of old- fashioned theatrical practice - speech, movement, live music, song and lighting. This production by Arches director Andy Arnold of Dylan Thomas’s well loved poem- play never brashly demands the suspension of disbelief, it simply invites it in a way too seductive and charming to resist.

Set in the 'dozy' Welsh seaside town of Llareggub, Thomas's play offers no shortage of opportunity for inventive staging with its outlandish community of characters and its fecund language, as plump and ripe as Polly Garter, the local good-time girl. Through the events

Llustful in Llareggub: Morag Stark and Muireann Kelly in Under Milk Wood

of one languid day, we become familiar with a whole society - implicitly the whole of post-war rural Wales - whose structure seems firmly based on lust and gossip. These people are filthy, greedy, nippy, boozy, shabby, grubby and nasty, but nothing can dwarf their appeal.

A cast of four musical actors and two acting musicians bring this skewed world to fecund life, wittin and deftly switching characters with a tweak of costume and facial expression, usually before our very eyes. We may struggle at times to tell our Lily Smalls from our Rosie Probert, but this seamless transformation between scenes and moods is what makes the production so enchanting. 'Organic' is the obvious description: it extends from Francis Gallop's magnificently cluttered, mudbound set all skewed bedsteads, groaning shelves and dented chamber pots

to the unbroken musical accompaniment, which doubles as sound effects, to the countless coups de theatre. A wardrobe opens out to become henpecking Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard’s bridal bed; Willy Nilly the nosy postman is pursued by a dog conjured up by his own voice; Sinbad the snivelling barman morphs into a squalling baby.

If this beautifully poised and stylish show has a shortfall, it is its self-contained artistic unity. Opening and closing through narration delivered via a 505 wireless (a nod to the play’s radio origins) it has a enclosing sense of place and period that tends to exclude any direct engagement with contemporary concerns. On the other hand, people don't change as fast as staging techniques. and Thomas's characters are nothing if not human. (Andrew Burnet)

Up a slippery pole: one of the cocksure stars of Girls' Night Out In Ibiza

70 THE lIST l‘) Nov—3 Dec l998

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SEX COMEDY Girls' Night Out In Ibiza

Edinburgh: King’s Theatre, until Sat 2i Nov An auditorium packed full of panting, cat-calling housevnves clutching pairs of carefully soiled knickers {xx/ell, almost) set the scene The notguite- full monty strip five minutes in confirmed that this was going to be theatre in the loosest possible sense of the word. And an oestrogen-frenzied display of animal instincts at its most terrifying, Ho-hum

Hmm, now ~ the, er, plot Four good- time gals in varying states of attachment and gravrty—deiiance leave their troubles behind to let off for some slapper action in the Spanish sun Jane's Just been left high and dry with babe in arms, daft hint Nicola's about to wed some guy who can't find her g-spot, ageing auntie lvy wants to forget it all vra some firm young flesh and Sara’s hellbent on kitting them out wrth dildoes, whips and crotchless panties. But that's nothing a week of sangria and honking on the beach won't sort out

All the while, ditching mundane

responsibilities to make the most of what little God gave them, tour cocksure blokes abroad decide to make a gurck buck by getting their hits out for the girls ('ue unwelcome blasts from the nobmo-distant past all over 'he shop, but you last know there's a grunting, sweating happvever-after waiting around the corner Enough, already.

Like a Chippendales' show wrth a plot as skimpy as a lycra g-string, this show leaves the ganting-on-it masses sadly wanting The action, such as rt is, clunks along wrth no surprises and enough padding to fill Peter Strrngfellawr's thong, aided and abetted by some seriously (r'ingei-x/orthy dialogue

And did nobody tell writer Dave Simpson that wrllres and Vibrators ceased to be funny once we graduated from the playground7 Yep, naff Wordplay is about as good as the humour gets The climax, meanwhile, a limp, four-pronged ltalids-strategically- .ihscuring-full-frontal attack, is enough to have any discerning female reaching for the aspirins

About as stimulating as the football reports and as trtrllating as page ten. Put them away, tellas (Claire Prentice)




Touring vita-1t

A company called Theatre Cryptic isn't likely to spell things out for you, and when its dual inspirations are the prologue to a book of short stories by Isabel Allende and a trip to a war zone, esoteric isn’t the word. An experimental dance-opera, Prologue propels its audience through a dazzling array of visual and aural landscapes.

The score is composer Anthea Haddow's response to a trip through Croatia, an attempt to capture the country's language and culture in sound. It opens with a speedy rush of techno and builds into an elegant classical soundscape reminiscent of Michael Nyman.

The film projections are highly sophisticated, the lighting and set desrgn are starkly beautiful; and yet it is that very beauty and sophistication that is the central problem with the piece. It comes across as a successful exerCIse in the creation of classy eye- candy, which sits uneasily with the concept of a country recovering from war. It is only rn the dance sequences, choreographed and performed by Hungarian duo The Shamans, that greater depth of feeling becomes apparent.

The dancers play out a passionate drama of conflict and reconciliation through movements that eschew the grace and glamour of classical ballet in favour of a pared-down, muscular style. Yet even this drama seems small- scale, a response to the simple love story that is spoken over it rather than to the weightier themes of the score.

There is a slickness about the production that leaves a question in the air: what is being said? Why even intimate a political agenda if the overall impact is similar to that of a beautifully produced music Video? There's something painfully ironic, if not downright glib, about flashes of text that read ’tvliddle class power it's a huge lie' in the midst of Such relentless prettiness.

Though Prologue is technically brilliant and vrsually memorable, it is regrettable that the raw emotional power of the dance sequences is compromised in what finally seems a rather shallow and non-committal work. (Hannah McGill)

Relentless prettiness: Csaba Horvath in Prologue


«s e >1: :1 e unmissable i s s w Very good is us- ss Worth a shot

st Below average I si- You‘ve been warned i