CONTEMPORARY DANCE Scottish Dance Theatre Tounng s~a v Having pulled itself up by its best lycra, Dundee-based Scottish Dance Theatre now has a tricky task. As the sole full-time flag-bearer of Scottish contemporary dance, it must be all things to all audience members. And now, with a series of safe and largely dependable tours under its sweat-pants, it must prove willing to take risks.

After all, what point is there in a modern dance company that wraps itself in a duvet of known quantities? Success thus far has leant heavily on artistic director Janet Smith's mature choreography and proven guest artists, but SDT's spring tour began bravely, diving in with new work from the fresh choreographic union of company members Errol White and Stephen Prickett. It is an experiment that only just pays off though, as White and Prickett's dance-making is still in the evolutionary phase.

signposts to an emerging narrative and Gerald M Tyler's v kitscth modernist backdrop of mini electric bar-fires. 5 So far so superficial. And substance is where White and Prickett's confection is lacking. Good ideas are i plentiful, but the choreographic spine is weak. Aping much current work, the style is casual and loose-limbed, E but the duo never really gain the courage of their convictions. Simple shifts of weight and gestural motifs become fumbles, while athletic sequences seem hastily glued together and fail to allow dancers space to move. Overall the piece looks undercooked, the movement

i BlTTERSWEET COMEDY i An Experienced Woman j Gives Advice

; Edinburgh: Royal Lyceum, until Sat 27 Mar '

i As the (iiitairi 'aised for the second t halt, rt hecarrie -. in“ that a handful of l the thryal lytetiiri ti'flllléils had upped

r sticks, voted with their feet and fled 2 their satred auditorium, their ears ' pmrtively (lanolin; With lain Heggie’s

'cnnts', 'fur and 'hastards'. Clearly, l these ‘.(‘."i\illvi' types rarely resort to I: su<l {Will Ant;Iii-Srixriiiisrris and, yet 1 triple (‘il)'\..(,ill‘.i‘/, they were expcrrenCrng l a Hermie obi; iv .' the very first time

Not that there is anything neanderthal about this sensory assault. Still Cries At A Good Film gives a bodyswerve to that dated look worn by so much

modern dance and opts for combats and anoraks.

Sartorial relevance is bolstered by an upfront

soundtrack involving jazz, rock and ambient sounds : from local band Quarter, striking projections that act as

Risky enough business? Scottish Dance Theatre


In An Experienced Woman Gives Advice, Bella (Jennifer Black) is a 43- year-old whose Sundays are Spent in the less than rosy communal garden at the back of her Glasgow tenement flat. This is an important day for Bella, a chance for her to reflect on the week just gone and the times ahead, haying now slid past the point where life is supposed to begin.

Gatecrashing her private rdyll are a series of sex-crazed characters seeking advice on how to proceed With their various conquests and sirnultaneOtisly opening Bella's eyes onto her own relationship With the much younger Kenny (Gavrn Kean) and revealing

Are You Experienced?: Jennifer B

ideas underdeveloped. Hopefully it will improve under the oven-heat of touring.

Janet Smith rustles up another impressive, if by now fomulaic piece in Song Of Songs, with the added bonus of original soundtrack from BAFTA award-winning Scottish composer Craig Armstrong (Romeo And Juliet). Here Smith's maturity is revealed as she limits her canvas to simple elements that accentuate dance as the star. Devised with the company, Song Of Songs takes its cue from Armstrong’s sweeping, slow-building score, majoring on mood rather than beat and basking in the rich berry colours of Kate Borthwick’s set and costumes. It’s nothing ground-breaking, but more than worthy of its ilk, eliciting satisfying silkily modernist moves from increasingly malleable dancers.

Much more reliable stuff from Smith could get boring though. Let the search for SDT's choreographic turks continue. (Ellie Carr)

hitherto unforeseen problems. Havrng reluctantly bestowed her words of wrsdom, the reCrprents show their gratitude by calling her everything from ’sad and lonely' to ’a connivin' auld hooer‘.

As this is lain Heggie, entanglement meets confusion while ramming complex complications into a tight corner as almost everyone in the cast has their moment with each other. The rrievrtable heartache and loneliness is waiting around the corner for someone, but who Will be the lucky recipient7

This is another enjoyable Heggie romp, which just about stays on the right side of outright farce —- though there is one bum-shot and a chase round the garden-shed —- and remains on course wrth fine performances all round. Special commendations go to Gail Watson as the pigtailed Dundonian hussy Nancy and Billy Boyd as lr‘vrng who transforms from a sleazy narcissist into a born-again Rod, lane and Freddy~freak Don't expect Chekhov when you get a slice of Heggre, but be prepared for your decency to be challenged (Brian Donaldson)

reviews THEATRE

FARCICAL DRAMA Kevin's Bed Glasgow: Citizens' until Sat 27 Mar;

Stirling: MacRobert Tue 30 Mar—Thu t Apr it it wk

The first appearance of Bernard Farrell’s new farce in Scotland leaves one disappointed at its convention but delighted by the exuberant humour of the text. Borderline’s production features a heavy-handed narrative framing device with which to transform itself between the 705 and 90s locales of the play. The structure, inherent to the writing, is of pensionable age. All this said, there are enough laughs in Farrell’s manipulation of his audience to make the play work.

After a contemporary prologue alluding to ghastly events 25 years ago, we return, through the recollections of the eponymous hero (Greg Powrie) to the 25th wedding anniversary celebrations of his parents. Kevin's pathological dissembling is amateurish enough to be spotted early on by his brother, who sees through everything about his sibling except the fact that his own fiancee has the hots for him. It emerges that Kevin has picked up a couple of vices before leaving his trainee priesthood in Rome first, he is caught smoking, then poking. The latter activity has gone on with Maria, an Italian arrival, who is initially, and perhaps too implausibly, disgursed as a nun. Inevitany all is disclosed, Maria’s pregnancy being the final straw for Kevin’s parents. The second act takes place in the 90s, and the characters having learned nothing, concealment, this time of a darker nature, is once again to the fore.

Not all of the plotting is as tight as it needs to be in farce, and eight characters are perhaps too many for a play which concentrates on the emotional and sexual frustrations of a central five. Powrre's performance is solid, but a little too sweaty, even for his uncool character. The star turn is surely Michael Mackenzie’s worldly dad, whose side-of—the-mouth sarcasm had the audience whooping. His understanding of the form was impressive, occasionally pausing and holding business to demonstrate that good farce isn't always just about accelerating the pace. Don't worry too much about the technical problems, just go and have a good laugh. (Leonard Conway)

Clerical errors: Kevin's Bed

18 Mar—l Apr 1999 THE lIST 57