BIG TIME MUSICAL
Martin Guerre Glasgow: King’s Theatre Tue 2—Sat 13 Mar.
His is the money and vision behind the biggest selling mu5icals currently touring the world. He has made Broadway and the West End what they are today. And in one Single show he has proved that he will stop at nothing - not even losing millions of pounds — until he achieves the production he wants.
One would think that Cameron Mackintosh would have tired of Martin Guerre by now. After the chaotic opening in July 1996, when it was still being rewritten and re-shaped, it staggered through an,eighteen month run in the West End, closing With an estimated seven figure loss. Amazingly, the legendary producer refuses to be anything but positive about the show: 'It ran for 700 performances in London, and after I closed it down three months into its run, it actually had pretty good reviews. It did decent
business.’ But this musical version of'
the 16th century tale of a French soldier returning home after seven years to find his identity challenged was proving as complex as the story itself. 'It was costing as much to run, if not more, than Les Miserables and Phantom, and the production Simply couldn't afford to do that.’
Most would walk away from a proiect so troubled, but writers Alain Boubil and Claude-Michel Schonberg felt they were unable to do so. Luckily, Mackintosh was behind them all the way (not surprisingly considering
Martin Guerre: Back from the dead
preVious smashes Les Miserables and Miss Saigon). ’Alain and Claude-Michel had a tremendous instinct that this was a wonderful story, but they wanted to do their own version of it. It’s JUSI been a long time finding that version,’
The end result is an almost entirely new musical With 90% of the music and lyrics written from sCratch. If audience reactions so far are anything to go by, 'Mr Producer’ is onto another Winner. ’I'm confident that this is the Show Alain and Claude-Michel finally wanted. The audience sob at the end in the way they sobbed for Les Mis. It’s very touching, a great love story and contains some of Claude—Michel’s finest music.’ (Nicola Christie)
THEATRE PREVIEW Kevin's Bed
Edinburgh: Brunton Theatre, Thu 4—Sat 13 Mar, then touring.
‘I (I ‘ ‘.Q.n",‘_ . ,‘ . ‘ b . l .’ ‘
Strange 'bed fellows' at the Brunton So girls just can’t keep their hands off you, and-you can’t say no — after all you’ve got to give a woman her dignity. You know what it's like, don’t you boys? Me neither. This, though is the problem for the eponymous hero of Bernard Farrell’s new play, which makes a British debut at the Brunton. Director Lesley Finlay stresses, though, that Kevin isn’t a bad lad, more of an accidental philanderer.
'Kevin doeSn’t really understand that with relationships come
58 TIIE LIST 18 Feb—4 Mar 1999
responsibilities,’ comments Finlay, of Borderline theatre, ’it’s not he’s nasty, no one in the play is, but he’s Just mystified.’ The comedy tells the stOry, Finlay explains, of KeVin (Greg Powri) returning home on the occasion of his parents 25th wedding anniversary He’s meant to be training for the priesthood, and the shock of his abandonment of his calling is compounded by the arrival of Maria (Marjory Hogarth) a young Italian nun, who is, to put the old tin lid on it, pregnant. Finlay adds, ’a lot of the humour comes from the characters, especially the family members, and the chaos all this Creates'
The narrative eXists in two times — much of it takes place 25 years on, as the family gathers to celebrate their parents’ 50th anniversary.
Kev'in still has secrets to keep, but the Secrets And Lies atmosphere of the family, and the comic possibility of discovery are still apparent Asked whether shifting the play's location from its original Dublin, where one imagines a pervaSive CatholiCism, and a Roddy Doyle milieu affects the play, Finlay remains confident of its ability to transcend the original context. ’Doyle and Farrell are both Dublin writers, so their city affects them, but this play goes beyond that. The Priesthood thing is really about how Kevin's parents want the best for him, rather than religion, it’s a form of aspiration, which gets disappomted, so we can reset the play in Glasgow.’
LIFE DURING WARTIME Making Noise Quietly Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, Wed 3—Sat 7 Mar.
Each play in Robert Holman’s trilogy deals with people meeting in an enVironment dominated by war; 40s Britain, 805 Cold War Europe, and the home of a woman whose son is serving in the South Atlantic Task Force.
They all seem to be very British in their depiction of character, so it’s perhaps strange that they should feature an Irish actor, Peter Hanly (best known for his appearances in Ba/lykissangel). But Hanly doesn’t feel his 'outsider' status hinders his characterisations: ’When I was growmg up my family had cable TV and we'd watch the BBC constantly, so I received iust as much exposure to British culture as I did Irish. Also, the plays are so well written that the instant I read them I understood the characters.’
Familiar the characters and even situations may be, but Hanly (who stars alongside Eleanor Bron) insists that they are archetypes, not stereotypes ’The great strength of Holman’s writing is the way he treats things you may think you know, but then shows them from an entirely different perspective,’ he says. ’Soiiiething like the scene where the mother receives bad news about her son -- that's something we’ve seen a million times in films and teleVision, but it’s presented in a fresh and surprising.’way.’
Rumours of war : Making Noise Quietly
AMERICAN CLASSIC The Glass Menagerie
Glasgow: James Arnott Theatre Wed 24—Sat 27 Feb.
The Deep South comes to the West End this month when Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie opens at the James Arnott Theatre in Gilmorehill
’The play lends itself to what we’re trying to do as a company, mixing different media,’ says director Steve Bottoms of Flexible Deadlock. 'These are the elements that Williams wrote in - with lighting and slide projections, it’s a very magical world he’s trying to create. A lot of productions ignore that, going for straight naturalism, dully done. We’re trying to realise Williams’ ViSion.'
When it came to casting the show, Bottoms made one ch0ice unusually early on in the proceedings, ’The immediate thing that sparked the idea was working with Ellie Reid at Glasgow University a year or so ago The show also represents an opportunity for the director to express his admiration for an author he has come to respect For a long time I preferred Miller, because he says things. Then I realised people who expressed things were far more interesting,’ (Rob Fraser)
Southern comfort: The Glass Menagerie
Edinburgh: Brunton Theatre, Fri 26 Feb, then touring.
A small group of film nOir gangsters arrive at a cafe in Mexico, and await a mysterious cohort, Smiley. Their stay is made uneaSy by their encounter With the uncomprehending and incomprehensible locals, and downright sinister by their gradual realisation that they’re in a mowe, which breaks down, slows and repeats, dictating their every action. Yes folks, we’re in the territory of Bunuel and Pirandello here, where the division between art and life is examined, transgressed, and finally shattered.
Pete Clerke, director of the Benchtours company and performer, comments, 'it’s not our intention to reCreate film now, but to explore the difference between movies and the theatre.’ Clerke stresses that the central ideas of the play are contingent on a new film literate theatre audience. 'lt’s a direction that theatre WIII be gOing in — you get the impression that audiences laugh at the recognition of films they’ve actually seen.’
Good pa'ody proceeds, of c0urse, from both mockery of a form and homage to it. If the play’s first run is a guide, you’ll find both here (Steve Cramer)
Mexican stand off: Carnivali