preview THEATRE


Coma: Stories From The Edge Of Life Tounng

With the applause and critical acclaim for last year's macabre nursery rhyme musical Shockheaded Peter still ringing in their collective ears, Improbable Theatre return to Scotland with Coma: Stories From The Edge Of Life. As co-director Julian Crouch explains, it’s a production which has been in development for ten years, ever since his colleague Phelim McDermott spent an afternoon browsing in a book shop.

'Phelim saw this book called Coma: Key To Awakening, by Arthur Mindell. The dust jacket spoke about dreams and what happens to the mind in altered states. He then attended a workshop Mindell was holding for people interested in working with coma patients,’ says Crouch. ’The idea for this show has been bubbling away ever since. We’ve even integrated some of Mindell’s exercises into what we do as a company creating a show.’

Mindell and his wife Amy base their therapy on the notion that conscious decisions can be made, even by the apparently unconscious. ‘They believe that people in a coma are not vegetables,’ Crouch continues. ’They believe they’re dreaming, taking care of a lot of unfinished

The Trocks: vicarious in a tutu

Coma Chameleons: Improbable Theatre

business, or even deciding whether to live or die.’

Such delicate matters of life and near death would prove daunting for many companies, but Improbable have managed to turn a crisis into a drama. ’Part of the show describes the difficulties of actually using coma as a suitable subject for theatre: that’s where a lot of the humour arises. We also use puppetry to show methods of working with coma people.’ More specifically, a spine is provided by a Mindell case study. ’The main thread of the piece is taken from the book about the Mindells and a couple they worked with Peter and Sandy,’ says Crouch. ‘Peter’s dying of leukaemia, and the play is about the journey he makes towards death, but also towards understanding.’

The company have been amazed by the audience reaction at earlier dates on the tour, leading Crouch to believe they’ve tapped into a widespread phenomenon. ’We used to have a question and answer section in the middle of the show,’ he says. ’But we had to move it to the end, because the stories people were telling about their own experiences were so fascinating they needed more time. It's great for us to meet people who have gone through this, and have them recognise things in the show. (Rob Fraser)

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l Stage whispers Re: treading the boards

NEWLY CROWNED BAFTA winner Cate Blanchett is joining the stampede of screen talent heading for the stage. The Oscar nominated star of Elizabeth and new release An Ideal Husband (see Film section) will take the lead in David Hare’s Plenty for the Almeida at the Albery Theatre. Ironically enough, it’s a part played on film by Meryl Streep, who like Blanchett lost out to Gwyneth Paltrow at the Oscars. Also involved will be Burt Kwouk, whose supporting role has prevented his involvement with the forthcoming Harry Hill tour (previewed in full next issue).

INTERESTED IN DANCE? Resident in (or at least near) Glasgow? Then The List wants to hear from you. We’re looking for someone with a wide knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, everything from the classic to the cutting edge. If that sounds like you, and you fancy spending a few ' l evenings a month reviewing the latest shows on a freelance basis,

l send a 250 word review of the last dance piece you saw to Rob Fraser, The List, 14 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TE. Examples of previously published work should also be sent, as journalistic experience is a

, definite advantage.

FRESH FROM PERFORMING in Friends In Love, Sex And Death (reviewed this issue), renaissance woman Kirsty Lewis Campbell directs Smike, a pop musical based on Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby. It's the first production featuring the 8—16 year olds who make up the student body at the Lewis Campbell School of the Performing Arts, established by Kirsty in 1997. The only cast member old enough to vote is Robert Reed, who plays Squeers. The show, intended as an introduction to Dickens, takes place at Community Central Halls, Maryhill Road, Glasgow, for one week beginning Mon 19 Apr at

. 7.30pm.

From Armada to Almeida: Cate Blanchett

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