Theatre 0 Comedy 0




‘Everywhere you go you leave a trail.’ Linda McLean's play Riddance is about past secrets and personal histories. Can you ever escape them? On the eve of her first full length professional production, Glasgow- born McLean is being hailed as a promising and powerful voice. ‘Her style of writing, is incredibly economical and visceral,’ says director Vicky Featherstone. ‘She’s a really muscular writer.’

Featherstone has stellar ability and the knack of spotting and encouraging it in others. As artistic director of Paines Plough she has turned the company round, gaining massive critical acclaim along the way. Her trick has been to encourage and develop new voices in the theatre, as well as giving more established figures the chance to create more personal work. ‘What I wanted to do was put the writer back in the heart of the company,’ she says. ‘I’ve tried to create an atmosphere where writers feel that they can experiment.’ In Edinburgh, Featherstone had enormous success with her 1997 production Anna Weiss.

Working with writers like Mark Ravenhill and the late Sarah Kane, much of the work from the company has been about the darker side of life. ‘If you give the writer an opportunity to write from somewhere they‘ve never written about before, it often is a dark place. But we try not to be self- indulgent. I also think that the theatre has a kind of transforming quality to it, so you can avoid the quagmire.’

That very dilemma, how to deal with the darkness, forms the central theme of Riddance. The characters’ different experiences of childhood

violence - as victim and witnesses - are revisited when they meet as adults. 'lt's about three people who grew up together and share different secrets from the same story,‘ Featherstone explains. ’There’s an inevitability that they will come together. What I think Linda is very interested in, is that intense psychological and emotional

(Moira Jeffrey)

Riddance: good?

relationship between people that share a history.’

Riddance won‘t be an easy ride but on the strength of Featherstone‘s record and McLean's promise it will be one of the unmissable events of the festival.

I For details, see Hit list, right.

Gay love needn‘t be a drag


Jim, accountant by day, stand-up comedian by night, meets Michael, computer programmer by day, drag queen by night on a blind date in modern day New York. Aside from leading complicated double lives, both men are HIV positive, have considerable emotional baggage and uncertain futures. The question is whether they decide to face up to their futures together.

Terry Wynne plays the character of Jim, who he explains 'is in denial about a lot of things' and this is manifested in his pretending to be

straight in his stand-up routine. When he meets Michael, an ex-hustler, he finds someone just as scared of making a commitment. Cory English, fresh from nearly ten years appearing in Broadway hits, takes the part of Michael.

Promising a love story for the 905, both actors stress the positive message of this tragi-comedy. Terry Wynne explains: ’It’s a very positive play and a fascinating piece considering it was written by Paul Harris, who is HIV himself, while recovering from pneumonia in hospital. It’s basically saying we're not victims.‘ (Catherine Bromley)

I For details, see Hit list, right.

I I h III I st

Peckish for some quality lunchtime shows? Your smorgasbord of delights starts here. Riddance See preview, left. Riddance (Fringe) Paines Plough, Traverse (Venue 75) 228 i404, until4 Sep (not 16, 23, 30 Aug) times vary, £9 6). See Festival Freeloaders, page 33. To Have And To Hold See preview, left. To Have And To Hold (Fringe) Theatre 28, Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49) 225 9893, 2.15pm, £7 (£5). Romeo And Juliet Briana Corrigan, former singer of The Beautiful South, makes her return to the stage as Juliet. Shakespeare 4 Kidz add songs and jazz up the original while keeping some of the bard's more poignant pieces. Catch this new production before it goes on national tour. Romeo And Juliet (Fringe) Shakespeare 4 Kidz, George Square Theatre (Venue 37) 662 8740, 7pm, £8 (£6). Preview 75 Aug, £3. See Festival Freeloaders, page 1 1.

Bare New Zealand two-hander that gets under the skin of a bunch of larger than life characters, plus one of the funniest lovemaking scenes you'll ever see in live theatre. See review on following pages. Bare (Fringe) Guy Masterson Productions, Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug, 7pm, £9/£8 (£8/£ 7).

Berkoff's Women Linda Marlowe's electrifying five star performance is Cruella de Vil on acid. Directed by Josie Lawrence, Marlowe brilliantly brings off a variety of personas. See preview on following pages. Berkoff’s Women (Fringe) Guy Masterson Productions, Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug, 7.15pm, £9/£8 (£8/£ 7).

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