The Kaos Metropolis Paisley Arts Centre, 27 & 28 May.
Fritz Lang’s classic silent movie Metropolis contains some of the most influential and enduring visions in cinema. Even if you‘ve never seen the whole film, you‘re probably familiar with its depiction of a dystopian future, which has been a source of inspiration for everything from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner to Madonna’s ‘Express Yourself’ video. Try not to think too much about ‘Radio Gaga‘ or that hideous colonised Giorgio Moroder scored re-issue of the 805. Now Kaos, a company at the sharpest cutting edge of theatre, are daring to interpret Lang's cast of thousands (37,383 to be exact), budget of millions epic for the stage.
Writer-director Xavier Leret feels this is a challenge to which his company can rise. ‘Because we’re a permanent company, we can work together on lighting (Bruno Edwards), sound (Jules Bushell) and design (Arnim Freiss) from the very beginning of a project,’ he says. 'I won’t give too much away, but I think we've managed to create a sense of scope, a sense of the masses.’
Although a great admirer of the visuals in the original, Leret feels compelled to challenge its political content,
'Polis state: Kaos in Paisley
particularly in the characterisation of Maria, the heroine. ‘In the film, Maria is a virginal figure, calling for calm and putting the case for mediation between the workers and employers,’ he says. ‘We've made her far more confrontational - she's a union activist, demanding a general strike.’
The entire piece shares this aggressive tone. ‘Lang wanted conciliation, we want revolution,‘ declares Leret. Even in these post-Thatcher years of anodyne Blairite government, where the unions are virtually impotent? ‘There’s a definite critique of New Labour here,‘ he continues. 'Although nominally set in the future, the play comments on the devastation suffered by manufacturing industry in the past twenty years.’
There are other significant differences between the stage and celluloid incarnations. The female robot, a Frankenstein‘s monster figure, has been replaced by a genetically engineered clone of Maria, drawing on contemporary anxieties to make the future all the more disturbing a place. By doing this, the company embrace one of the great dramatic truisms — no matter what time period a work of art is set in, it reflects and reveals the world in which it is created. And few shows this year are likely to contain so singular a vision as the Kaos Metropolis. (Rob Fraser)
Tranquillity Glasgow: The Arches, Thu 20-Sa May.
Apart from The Fall's work with Michael Clark, bands have tended not to get involved in theatre. Some have incorporated theatrical elements :nto their gigs (put down that inflatable porker, DaVId Gilmouri, but few have gone the other way and traded the moshpit for the prompter‘s box That’s a situation which Twelve Stars, a new Glasgow-based theatre company, is keen to change.
’l'm really interested in collaborating With groups, especially since so many great bands are coming out of Scotland,’ says Twelve Star's Gerard Mclnulty. 'Bands like Mogwai, for instance, are really suited to soundtracks and theatre work because their music is atmospheric. and largely instrumental But it's important that the people you work with have an empathy. You can’t Just choose someone's music because the band are down; well.’
For Trangur/lity, Twelve Stars are getting together With Adventures In Stereo, the Current Outfit of ex-Primal Scream man Jim Beattie. Trangtii/lity is a devised two-hander using the story
of Timon of Athens, most famously told by Shakespeare, as a jtlllilﬂliq off point Adventures in Stereo specialise in extremely brief pop songs :liilUQlTCQd by the Beach Boys and Velvet Underground, so it was a challenge for Beattie to create an extended soundtrack for the ancient tale of misanthropy and disillusionment, especially as he worked on the theatrical pieces in between recording s0ngs for his own forthcoming album.
'I JUSI tried to describe Tranquillity to Jim in terms of how things w0uld feel at certain points, so he had to use his imagination to a large extent,’ says lvlclnulty 'But what he came up with was spookin appropriate It was as if he had been with us while we were developing the work '
Tranquillity is the first piece developed by Twelve Stars Taking their name from the Book of Rt-welations, the company aie dedicated to creating original works from a postmodern array of sources - ttieatiic'ai and non- theatrical, classical and (nooern, verbal and Visual Linear narrative is not on the agenda iPeter Ross,‘
CHILDREN'S MUSICAL Danny 306 & Me (4 ever)
Edinburgh: Traverse 14, 22 & 23,29 & 30 May.
The Traverse has gathered together an impresswe array of talent for its first ever children’s musical — certainly strong enough to attract an adult audience. The cast include such luminaries as Callum Cuthbertson, Joel Strachan and Iona Carbarns, and the play is the latest offering from the COuntry's most prolific writer David Greig (Mainstream. the forthcoming The SpeCU/ator.) At the directorial helm is John Tiffany, fresh from packing houses across the UK wrth Perfect Days.
These theatrical heavyweights don’t take Juvenile entertainment lightly, however Tiffany insists that children’s theatre is at least as demanding as its adult equwalent. '!f kids get bored you’ve had it YOU have to keep pulling cards out of the bag, and sometimes it can feel as though we've run out of aces,‘ he says 'It's great fun to do, but it's as hard as domg a "grown up" play, if not more so '
The first challenge the company set themselves involved the treatment of animated protagonists ‘We're trying to do something quite new really, which is take puppet characters throth a whole play,’ explains Tiffany. ’Myself, Davrd Greig and (animation designer) Nick Barnes didn't want to just replace actors — we wanted to find a theatrical reason why certain characters should be puppets. We decided it’s because they can do things that humans can’t, or because they exist only as a memory.’ This respect for puppet integrity lead to some early confusion for the flesh and blood members of the cast 'When the actors read the original script, they COUlle't tell who was a puppet and who wasn't. Danny reads like one yOung bOy, but in fact he's operated by three people '
Animation aside, the success of any song and dance spectacular lies in the quality of the tunes The director is confident the show has what it takes: 'lt takes place in the 20s, so the music has a Noel Coward meets JEiZZ wbe,’ he says 'There are some really cheeky numbers ' (Rob Fraser,l
She's got no strings: Carbarns in Danny 306
13—27 May 1999 THE usrss