BLACK COMEDY Things We Do For Love
Edinburgh: Royal Lyceum, Fri 9
Jul—Sat 7 Aug. This is Davi Robb's third show as a
director at the Lyceum, but undoubtedly the trickiest so far. It’s not so much the script, nor the amazingly complex set, but a very complicated relationship with a member of his cast - his wife. Asked how much trouble one can get into when one has to tell the lemon curd what to do at work, Robb plays down the dangers: ‘We've only worked together twice before, once when we first met, 24 years ago, and once on Hay Fever here at the Lyceum a few years back, but on both those occasions it was as fellow actors. This is the first time I’ve directed her, but we’ve taken it in our stride. She called it the divorce show on the first day, and that caught on with the cast, but things are going nicely.’
The trouble;and-strife in question, Briony McRoberts, plays Barbara, a woman for whom things aren’t going so smoothly. She owns a house split into rented apartments, with her devoted tenant, Gilbert (Robert Paterson) downstairs, and her old schoolfriend Nikki (Leigh Biagi) upstairs. Nikki introduces her fiance Hamish (Liam Brennan) to Barbara, and sexual complications arise. Robb takes up the story: 'When Barbara meets Hamish they hate each other instantly, but they also want to jump each others bones. Sexuality is pretty mysterious that way, and a rampant prick knows no conscience.’ Put this way, it's hard not to take the point, as it were.
Beyond the sexual issues, there’s also the subtext of human cruelty and frustrated desire, very much the territory of Ayckbourn, who peoples his narratives with the neurotics and obsessives of middle class English suburbia. The director comments on this subtext: 'When
Front of spouse: Briony McRoberts
you first read the script, you think, “okay, no problems, it all looks straightforward", but it's not. Under the everyday conversation people are doing the most awful things to each other. It's actually also very funny, but we’re not playing it too much as farce.’ This it would seem, might undermine the fundamental darkness of the piece.
The set, even for the Lyceum, sounds as intricate as any of the year. The audience will be confronted with all three levels of the apartment onstage, but only the middle floor (Barbara’s flat) is fully visible. Beyond that the top 18in of the lower flat, and the same amount at floor level of the upper are all we can see. The comic possibilities offered by this alone seems to make the play worth the journey. (Steve Cramer)
Eeyore's Birthday Pa lTiggers Don't Clim Trees
Stirling: MacRobert Arts Centre, Sun 18 Jul & Mon 19 Jul.
Puppeteer Richard Medrington talks confidently of how all the venues he plays with his small puppet show sell out. Touring the show across the Western Isles to ’intimate venues’ he tells me 'the show works just as well in larger venues'. Asked whether some of the audience find the language of A. A. Milne’s books difficult to follow, Medrington assures us that the Visual imagery of the soft puppets combined wrth the nostalgic setting of Milne's
Winnie The Pooh: Proving that A. A. Milne is not an Italian football club
19205 attic grips the children's attention, allowrng them to enjoy every minute of the show.
Richard reads the stories while he Interacts wrth the puppets, as5uring us that the Stories 'have never really dated. The characters, although animals, have baSlC human characteristics and are very powerful'
48 THE lIST 8-22 Jul 1999
As the attic setting suggests, an intimate audience IS desuable to set the tone of the work. The usual venues Medrington plays are schools and theatres. He has been working in puppetry for fifteen years and defends his trade, one of the oldest theatrical art forms, against other forms of drama, saying 'you can keep an
audience entertained more easily with puppetry’ and claiming that they have 'such exceptional appeal that gets to the child in us'. After each performance there will be a bring your own soft toy workshop, where the first twenty children booked will learn how to bring their own cuddly toys to life. (Laura McGrath).
Stage whispers Re: Treading the boards.
AMID ALL THE TRAUMA of festival preparation in the Scottish theatre, a major achievement has gone unnoticed by many in Arts circles. Cathie Boyd, Artistic Director of Theatre Cryptic has been nominated for a European Woman Of Achievement Award. Since she founded Cryptic in 1994, Boyd has moved the company on in leaps and bounds - among recent projects with which she has been involved are the multimedia piece A Language Of Others and Faust at the Festival Theatre. Upcoming projects include a new version of Electra, which will be premiering at the McLelland Galleries in Glasgow on 12 Aug, and going on to Theatre Workshop from 17 Aug. We wish Cathie the best of luck for the awards, which will be announced on Fri 9 Jul.
GOOD NEWS FOR FANS of stand up. Seasoned comic Lee Ness will be opening a new club devoted to live comedy occurring once a month at the Physician and Firkin in Edinburgh. The space will accommodate an audience of 200, and there seems to be no shortage of interest from top-flight comics. A preview night for the club, The Tartan Tantrum Comedy Club, will occur on 9 Aug (see listings for details), with headliners including Phil Kay, Janey Godley, Reg 'Voodoo' Anderson and Robert Knox. Ness, who will be compering the show, claims that it will represent a new format, in which artists will not suffer interference by venues in presenting material. There are plans for a comedy bearpit, presenting a free space for festival stand ups in the latter part of the fringe, while the club will begin on a regular basis late in September. Ness feels that by providing quality acts in combination with a sense of open forum in terms of material and experiment, he'll be adding a distinctive voice to the local comedy circuit.
Award winner?: Cathy Boyd