POST WAR DRAMA The Deep Blue Sea
Edinburgh: Royal Lyceum, until Sat 6 Feb * air air air
The second the curtain rises on Saul Radomsky's set we know where we are - this is Rattigan Country. A world of shabby gentility where surface respectability matters more than personal happiness or emotional fulfillment. We get all of this before a word is spoken, simply by looking at the furniture and decor in Hester Page's flat, so the atmosphere and milieu are firmly established by the time her salt of the earth landlady and fussbudget neighbour enter to find the failed suicide unconscious in front of the gas fire.
It’s a tribute to both play and production that even though the action unfolds over the course of a single day and in a single space, there are no longueurs, no moments when the audience is less than gripped. For this, much credit must go to the cast, already razor sharp on opening night and probably even better by the time you read this review. John Woodvine offers a compassionate insight into Sir William, the bewildered cuckold who might otherwise easily have come across as a stern, aloof patrician. He also manages to generate
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Deep impact: Miller and Hester share secrets
belly laughs from his reaction to a sub standard claret. In the lead, Lynn Farleigh maintains a delicate balance between Hester’s desperate fear of loneliness and capacity for independence. This is a strong woman paradoxically dependent on a weak, damaged man (Thomas Lockyer as Freddie, the test pilot who can no longer cut the aerial mustard). Hester's only ’crime', like that of her adulterous namesake in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, is to have been born into a society ignorant and fearful of female sexuality. These post-war anglo-saxon attitudes are perfectly embodied by Hugh Lee, as the priggish but corrupt civil servant Philip Welch. The young bureaucrat’s polar opposite — and in many ways the authorial voice of the piece - is Robert Demeger’s Mr Miller, who represents morality without piety and wisdom without cynicism. In a play so rich in dialogue, the actor deserves special credit for the amount of information he's able to convey with a single glance or gesture.
One small criticism — text and cast are good enough to have survived a slightly more adventurous approach, but in terms of quality drama, beautifully performed, this is hard to fault. (Rob Fraser).
PHYSICAL THEATRE The Lost Child
Glasgow: James Arnott Theatre, Mon I Feb.
Babies on board: The Lost Child
80 THE lIST 2i Jan—4 Feb I999
Piercmg screams and weeping waltzes, an exploding house and a stolen pregnancy -- this is the stuff of which DaVId Glass's dreams are made. And these days this top UK physical theatre auteur is dreaming on a global scale.
The Lost Child is the second instalment in Glass’s trilogy of dark, fantastic Visual poems designed to call attention to the wrongs inflicted upon children around the world. The first part, a savagely imaginative and near wordless take on fairytale fears called The Hansel Gretel Machine, toured Scotland in early 1998
Glass and his eponymous ensemble devised the new piece after extended encounters last year With young people, theatre artists and aid workers abroad. The company used trust building exerCises (and interpreters) to help uncover the minds and hearts of deaf children in Vietnam, street kids in Bogota, and child prostitutes in Cambodia, Each re3idency culminated in performances of Hansel Gretel featuring local youngsters,
Theatrical play became a tool through which these damaged
indiViduals could collectively explore and express feelings of abandonment. It was eye-opening for the westerners too. ’We stepped into a mirror when we entered the world of these children,’ Glass says, ’and saw our own sadness for them, and gUilt about them.’
Glass and his collaborators — f0ur actors, a designer and a composer — have been anything but literal in transferring real kids' troubled lives to the stage. ’We decided early on not push them With “can you tell us about your life?" Material for the show has been informed by our impressions of the children, and our own dreams.’ Ideas and imagery borrowed from Alice Through The Looking Glass (a maternal sheep, a father figure knight always falling off his horse, the Mad Hatter and White Rabbit as respective Symbols of chaos and death) have been transformed into emotionally charged, archetypal and, in Glass’s words, 'anti-Disney' stage pictures.
The pOint, Glass says, is to shed light on ’what happens as adults when the child in us has been lost.’
CONTEMPORARY DANCE- DRAMA PREVIEW
It’s unlikely that you’ll ever see John Binnie stage a full scale production of Swan Lake, but dance is currently muscling its way into the well—kent Clyde Unity director's life as he enters the final weeks of rehearsal for Coconut. The show is a meeting of minds and bodies with contemporary dancer Rosina Bonsu.
While Binnie admits to being baffled by the twists and turns of dance terminology, he is more than happy to direct Bonsu's choreographic output in this solo show about cultural identity and mid-life jitters. ’
’It makes you realise that movement is often the most important factor,’ he reflects. ’Sometimes you don’t need a lot of words to make an impact.’
Coconut is not without words however. Drawn from Bonsu's experiences as an Afro-British woman, it tells of a 45-year-old Ghanaian woman living in Glasgow and experiencing doubt about her identity. This is achieved through a balance of text and movement, both originated by Bonsu.
’We tried to give it as strong a story as possible because we wanted to appeal to both the dance and theatre audiences,’ says Binnie.
Like anyone approaching the big ’four oh,’ Binnie is on the lookout for anything resembling a mid-life crisis, but for Bonsu, identity is about more than arithmetic.
’Rosina was born in Ghana,’ says Binnie, ’and we both wanted to know — how is it that she has such a completely different life from her mother?’
Bonsu’s mum has become the third party in a production that, if successful, should ring true with anyone who has ever wondered who they really are. Binnie explains: ’When Rosina’s mother reached puberty, she had to sit topless on the veranda surrounded by all her possessions and 32 suitors would come and have a look and decide if she was good enough to marry. I had to look at that and think, how does that relate to me as a gay man wondering "Will I ever get a boyfriend?“
So remember, if the dating agency fails, there's always the veranda option. (Ellie Carr)
Milking it: Rosina Bonsu in Coconut
9 .~ V i ‘I' ‘ STAR RATINGS 1r it it It: air Unmissable at w it 1k Very good air it» it Worth a shot at 3% Below average * You've been warned