Theatre 0 Comedy - Dance
The reputation of Irish dramatist Tom Murphy precedes him, his work having created sensation upon sensation for many years now in his own country. Though audiences ' here may know the name, associating it with controversy and stern questioning of Irish identity, his plays have seldom been performed outside Ireland. Patrick Mason, director of this production from the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, points to the peculiarity of this, from the perspective of his native audience: 'In Ireland, he's rated as highly as Brian Friel, but for some reason his work hasn't caught on elsewhere.'
This year's International Festival offering looks set to reverse‘our currently lamentable ignorance of this dramatist’s work. The Wake sets out to disrupt many of the comfortable assumptions made about Ireland and Irishness by both its indigenous population and those who view it with fraternal affection from abroad. In Vera, a woman who reverses Irish expectations about the great escape to America, having endured the life of a prostitute there, we have a character who confronts one of the sacred cows of Irish culture from the outset. At the
death of her grandparents, she returns to Ireland for the ritual of the title. Mason takes up the story: ‘At the homecoming. what she finds, having worked as a hooker and sustained herself through ideas of family and home, is this appalling situation where the family have virtually murdered the grandfather to get her farm. The whole sustaining myth of family and country
collapses on her.’
It would seem that Murphy's relationship with his country is an uneasy one. but Mason compares him in
Wake in fright: Patrick Mason
this respect to IM Synge and Sean O'Casey. Another notable comparison is Eugene O'Neill, the American dramatist whose More Stately Mansions was revived in last year's Festival. ‘You do get a feel of that inner territory of O'Neill,’ says Mason, ‘and there's all the drink as well. In Murphy‘s work you get these incredible drinking binges too. which plumb the depths of all this
emotion inside families. But it's also very funny, like a
wake, which involves so many emotions.‘ (Steve Cramer) I For details, see Hit list, right.
Giving us he shoe-hor: Gumboots
DANCE REVIEW Gumboots *****
Opening night, and the house is packed, sold out in fact. And for the South African show Gumboots, destined to be the hit of this year's Fringe, this is likely to be a regular occurrence.
From the moment the gumboot dancers bound onto the stage, the audience is gripped by their uplifting, vibrant energy. Stripped to the waist, the dancers are dressed not just for titillation, but according to the traditional uniform worn by the goldminers of Johannesburg. Wearing thick bracelets of bells around their ankles and already in tune with rising a cappella harmonies, the stomping and boot slapping begins.
Perfectly choreographed dance routines come across as casual improvisation as the rapidly perspiring
performers begin to construct the interactive set. The goldmine constructed, the boys concentrate on building the show. An audience that would have been satisfied with the six performers on stage erupts into a frenzy when the backdrop is torn down to reveal the three band members and a trio of backing singers who descend to the stage to join the party. In a cheeky little rendition of I’m Too Sexy, the hard-working boys work their bodies, driving the audience into fits of giggles and salacious swoons. The pumping energy does subside in moving musical tribute to the oppression from which this art form derives, demonstrating even further that this show has something for everyone. There are songs of sorrow, drinking songs and good old-fashioned dance numbers and they're all delivered with passion.
I Gumboots (Fringe) See Hit List, right.
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A sumptuous suppertime of entertainment Gumboots See review, left. Gumboots (Fringe) Gilded Balloon At The Palladium (Venue 26) 226 2 75 7, until 30 Aug (not 8, I6, 23) 7pm, 74—75, 27—22 Aug, 3. 15pm; 28-30 Aug, 1.45pm, £9.50 (£8.50). The Wake See preview, left. The Wake (Festival) Abbey Theatre Dub/in, Kings Theatre, 473 2000, 76—21 Aug, 7.30pm; 27 Aug, 2.30pm, £5-£22.
Passage Exhilarating contemporary dance from Reunion Island, mixing modern dance and music techniques with traditional forms. Vibrant and striking in movement, this company are a must for fans of spectacle and splendour in dance. See preview on following pages. Passage (Fringe) Theatre Ta/ipot, Continental Shifts At St Brides (Venue 62) 346 7405, until 28 Aug, 6pm, £8.50 (£7). Artifact William Forsythe's adventurous full-scale piece with the Dutch National Ballet promises a unique use of space with a succession of duets, as well as some thrilling ensemble combinations. This is dance with a sense of theatre, adding dramatic imagery to skilled movement. See preview on following pages. Artifact (Festival) Dutch National Ballet, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, 473 2000, 76—18 Aug, 7.30pm, £5—£25.
The Nation’s Favourite: The True Adventures Of Radio 1 A gripping and comical account of the early 905 changes at Radio 1, adapted by performer Alex Lowe from Simon Garfield's book. Corporate intrigue and executive double-cross are to the fore, while interest is added by our knowledge of some of the celebrities discussed. The
Nation ’5 Favourite: True Adventures Of Radio I (Fringe) Fat Bloke Productions, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 30 Aug (not 23—24) 6. 15pm, £8/£ 7 (f 7/£ 6).
12-19 Aug 1999 THE LIST 45