PINTER DOUBLE BILL The Dwarfs & Ashes To Ashes
Glasgow: James Arnott Theatre Fri 28 & Sat 29 May.
Playing Hary's game: Crowd Shot
It’s already been a good year for Pinter productions in Glasgow, thanks to Andy Arnold's riveting take on The Caretaker at the Arches. Now the greatest livrng dramatist (discuss) has attracted the attention of the young Turks at Crowd Shot who erI present a double bill at the James Arnott Theatre in Gilmorehill. The thing about this West End Offering which immediately grabs the attention is the chorce of material: Ashes To Ashes is respected as one of the writer’s best ’late period’ plays, and The Dwarfs hasn’t been seen for more than 30 years.
Director Alan McKendrick explains the thinking behind the bold selection: ’Pickmg The Dwarfs wasn't wilfully obsccire,’ he insists ’I think it’s
something people should have the opportunity to see — it hasn’t been performed since I963 and I really don’t understand why it was so critically reviled at the time. I read it over a year ago, and ever since it’s been in my mind.’ McKendrick clearly feels the neglect the piece has suffered is unwarranted and perhaps stems from preconceptions that audiences, critics and companies have regarding its writer. ’It’s a very funny play which I think people miss,’ he says. ’The humour in Pinter is something people generally do miss. Some of his plays are staged with a misguided reverence for the writer, simply because he’s been around for so long. I believe you should be entertained by a Harold Pinter play, not just experience it,’ he continues. 'It's a paradoxical situation where the plays become venerated because originally they were entertaining, and then lose their entertainment value.’
The second half of the double bill presents fewer challenges to the director and his cast, but is provrng a no less rewarding experience. ’Ashes To Ashes is reminiscent of earlier work because it's about personal relationships,’ he says. ’It’s one of my favourite pieces of text ever written - it's a beautiful play even if it is depressing and upsettmg.’ If McKendrick can transfer the intensity of feeling he clearly has for the material to his actors and through them on to the audience, this should make for compelling theatre.
CONTEMPORARY DANCE K'dar
Glasgow: Tramt ray “(It Barrowlands, Fri 4 & Sat 5 Jun. As the Tramway tlits round Glasgow, lighting On one 'found' space after another, the eye of the urban dance warriors among its directorate has fallen on Barrowland There, in early June, the venue's usual diet of rock gigs and club events Will be upset when Belgian contemporary dance outfit, Hush Hush Hush, make their Scottish debut With a show called K'dar
K’dar, meaning 'to dare', is not, in fact a totally incongruous piece to take to the cavernous ballioOin It brings the Urban rhythms and moves of hip hop to a contemporary head wrth a clashing and r‘ninciling of dance styles that are echoed in the fusion of claSSIcal rnuSic, rap and beats, to l.'/lllCit the dance is set 'With Hush Hush Hush taunted to combine conternpc‘iiaiy dance wrth exploswe street choieoc‘traphy, informed by present—day street culture,’ the company's iviOIO(Cdll-l)().'lt artistic director Abrielaziz Saiiokh has said, 'CIrlture which draws on everything from lv‘iT‘v' to hip hop ' The company, which Sarrokii ‘orrried i'l 7997, is part of the Fi‘r-j-ric‘i—lecl dance rrtcg-vernent known as (es attaines The term is used for breakdaiice and other forms which :Ievelor: on the street, as well as the 'TII"€‘ Si!:lt’.‘.'~1"(i modern work whit d'avis on the cztv for insprrt’itrer‘.
Spin doctors: K'dar
In France and Belgium in particular, hip hop has been reinvented and developed — helped by a government decision to fund and house street dance Two breakdancers form a core part of the eight-strong company, together wrth classical, modern and African-trained artists. It is in this diversny which Sarrokh revels, Creating choreography which removes the boundaries between disparate forms, Sarrokh has a reputation for dramatic staging A mini Cooper featured in the stage set for Hush Hush Hush’s first piece, Carte Blanche, and the more recent Via had live grand piano and cello competing With a DJ 50 this is one event which should appeal to breaks specialists and contemporary dancers alike -- as well as anyone who appreciates a good, noisy show “Thorn Dibdin)
NEW DRAMA Last Stand Edinburgh: Traverse Thu 3—Sun 6 Jun.
Death row record: Last Stand
A condemned man’s desire to walk barefoot on the grass could provrde mawkish material for many a company. But Last Stand — the latest offering from the Vibrant Vanishing Point — pirouettes around a death row prisoner in a ’strarigely celebratory fashion,’ according to its co-ordinator, Matt Lenton
’Iast Stand celebrates the small things that become important and special when deprived oi that freedom people take for Granted] he says. Inspired by
54 THE UST 77May—10lun I999
the real life last wish of an American inmate, the play works through a double narrative to examine how the prisoner’s Scottish family reflect upon their own lives after receiving his letters. Lenton continues: ’While we have every respect for the weightiness of the subject matter, we still feel it's an extremely rich context in which to explore the very fundamentals of being human.’
The show opts for a visually seductive stage style as it strives to seek out some of life’s quintessential truths. ’The visual interest of of the set — complete with lighting reflecting spectacularly off mirrored flooring — works wonderfully With the storytelling,’ believes Lenton — who insists the fantastical setting is all part of the company’s bid to make theatre more theatrical. ’We're trying to do something that’s essentially more immediate and excrting,’ he says. They must be dorng something right, since the SAC has recently awarded Vanishing Point's next production more than £20,000 in funding.
The Edinburgh dates represent only the latest incarnation of the production, which retains a ’work in progress’ tag. ’We’ve been developing Last Stand since its premiere in November,’ says Lenton. ’But we’ve been careful not to turn it into a play text because we want to keep the energy, complete with its rough edges. The idea is to make that moment, that time of being in the theatre very Important, vital and imaginative ' (Alison Chiesa)
Edinburgh Royal Lyceum Theatre, Tue l—Sat i2 luri. Tony Cownie's assoc iatror‘ wrth LIZ Lochhead goes back as far as l983, when he appeared in Shangha/ed, the play whose first half was transforn'ied last year into this full length, much acclaimed Lyceurii premier Cownie is Currently touring as director wrth a recast version So what's the secret of Lochhead's success7
Some of answers lie in the question of national idemin 'Liz is a master of a Scottishness that is instantly recognisable, but unique at the same tune,’ says Cownre She aslzs
; what's Scottish about being Scottish ' If
this sounds like a paradox, you'll need to see the play to clarify it In it, three Glasgow 'liilrlinn e' the l)lrt.7 era are evacuate-ii ‘ ‘l.2.'ll"."\|ti(‘ lliev hate lt€\(:l Sc'V'll
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Coronation treat: Britannia Rules
meet an upper-class child of similar age Their learning curve escalates pretty rapidly wrth the experience, and we find them, in the second half of the play, reunited on Coronation day. Questions of class, gender, sexuality and nationality come to the fore, but With a gentle, lyrical humour which adds subtlety and emotion to the mix.
Cownie discusses the subtext: ’Politics are important. It's a political deCision to send these children away, and it's political circumstances, in terms of class, they find themselves in But while the war is on and the adult world is in conflict, they find ways of resolvmg conflict ’ He continues: 'In the second half, there’s this issue of the Coronation, very complex tOr Scotland— was she Elizabeth the second or the first for this country7’ The beauty of this play is that is raises these issues an at" icressihl i l eleciiac manner. (Steve Ciainer)