DOMESTIC DRAMA Family Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, from Fri 5
Feb. As images go, the photograph at the
top of this page certainly falls into the eye catching category. Actor Russell Hunter, pictured with his wife Una McLean, has been surprised at the reaction simply getting his kit off has provoked. ’People have been coming up to me and telephoning ever since the Traverse brochure came out,’ he reveals. ’They’re amazed - you two, at your age. Never mind that we don't actually appear naked onstage, the photograph is obviously enough to grab the attention. And anyway, if lain Glen and a bloody movie star can do it on Broadway, why the hell shouldn't me and my wife do it in Edinburgh?’
The promotional campaign is typical of the bold nature of the Traverse's first production of 1999. Family is actually three plays which form one theatrical experience. Three generations of playwrights have their vision of domestic life interpreted by Hunter, McLean, fellow actors Jennifer Black and Liam Brennan, and directors Philip Howard and Yvonne McDevitt. Riccardo Galgani’s Acts deals with memory, loss, and memory loss, One Good Beating is Linda McLean's tale of revenge, and The Visitor is the last work of the late lain Crichton Smith.
The triple bill is an experimental approach to staging drama the veteran actor feels could pay dividends for all concerned. ’I think it's the way forward, particularly for new, young writers who might be able to convey everything they wish to say in 30 minutes,’ he says. 'The days of three act, two hour dramas are numbered in some ways. They place too many restrictions on the ' er.‘
It takes two: Tango Pasién hits
Nude awakening: Hunter and McLean in Family
Hunter has also found working with his better half to his liking, even putting in some voluntary overtime. ’We can go home, relax, have some food, and then talk about the play. Sometimes that’s how you get insight into the characters, away from the rehearsal room where the atmosphere is more intense.’
That's not to say the couple leave fellow cast members feeling excluded. 'We were stood with Liam Hunter trying to get a taxi,’ Russell remembers. ’He ended up coming home with us, and we had a bit of supper and managed to get through about six bottles of wine. That’s usually the best way for actors to get to know each other.’
Nice to know that even with projects as innovative as Family, some theatrical traditions remain sacrosanct.
(Rob Fraser). See reader offers page 112.
fourteen mommies and 22 daddies. It's their life '
It's a terrible cliche. But in the case of Tango Pas/On and the Sexteto Mayor Orchestra it's one that sticks. Together seven years, most of the dancers are married couples. The orchestra has been an item for over 25 years and between them they tOur up to twelve months a year, domg pretty much the same show every night.
So how do they relax when the curtains go down7 According to Howard they seek out local bars where they indulge in yet more fiery, passion- filled tango. ’They just love what they do,’ he says, in somewhat understated
¥ Tango Pasic’m
winburch: Festival Theatre, Thu ll-—Sat 7:3 Feb. Life I' We 'rrad :s notorious for many
tliinf's ’ banginn nappies is not one of them Fiat dancers and music :ans of Argentina", seven-year hit rnusital Tango Pasion, ‘.'.’lll(ll traces tango's story from turn-of-tlie-tenttiry Buenos Aries brothels to the present-
' day, it is all in a day's touring.
American producer lvlel Howard
explains 'When the weather gets nice in holiday season instead of touring With our normal company of 32 people here we are \‘Jllll about 40 «50 people because they all bring their families It becomes qurte an em «illltltTlOlll '
Not very rock 'n' roll, and for Howard this family approath to touring took some adjustment 'I had my doubts at the beginning but it's turned out very well,’ he concedes 'Attually the children are very well-behaved The whole company adopts them so when they're in the theatre they have
As it happens, this steamy but decidedly slick musical is a far cry from the late-night bar-room liaisons that keep its story alive. But, reckons Howard, that is poSSibly the secret of its success,
’This dance, this music,' he says, 'works better in bigger spaces Put six or seven couples on stage at the same time and they can really 90 We’ve done shows in football stadiums and you’ve got 15,000 people roaring. It’s like a football match.’ (Ellie Carr)
Stage whispers A word to the wise from the wings
FORMER FESTIVAL FRINGE head honcho Hilary Strong has decided on her first project as a solo artist. so to speak. Strong will direct a stage adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes Of Wrath. The Joad family and their fellow Okies will make the long trip from the dustbowl to the Pleasance in Edinburgh this March. Strong is reportedly relishing the chance to work with a company of actors, rather than a plethora of companies. It’s a bold move to choose as a source something so familiar as both a novel and an Oscar-winning, classic movie, but it should ensure that Strong’s return to theatre makes quite a splash.
WRITER PERFORMER FIONA ORMISTON, featured in the last issue of The List, welcomed an unusual visitor to her one woman show at the Citizens’ earlier this month. The sister of Ruth Ellis — last woman to be hanged in Britain and the subject of Ormiston’s play — attended a performance in Glasgow.
BASTION OF LAUGHTER and breeding ground for local talent Christie’s Comedy Cellar has been chosen to host the Scottish heats of the BBC New Comedy Awards 1999. Aspiring comics wishing to take part should contact Jayne Gross or Susanne Fraser (who will act as MC) at the Edinburgh venue on 0131
661 9134. Alternatively, send a five minute cassette (audio or video) to BBC New Comedy Awards, PO Box 19718, London, SW15 ZWN. All entries should be labelled with name, address and telephone number.
Gathering up the vintage: Hilary Strong 4—18 Feb 1999 THE “ST 57