CLASSIC COMEDY The Importance Of
Edinburgh: King's Theatre, Mon 27 Sep—Sat 2 Oct.
For many critics, save those that prefer such strong meat as Volpone, Wilde’s comedy of manners is the greatest of all comedies in English. One reason for this is the presence of a single character, Lady Bracknell. This role has been sought after by every British actress in the business, but only a few of these dreamers who stand in front of the mirror, year in, year out practising their ’A Handbagl’ ever reach this goal at professional level. The latest incumbent is Liza Goddard, familiar to television viewers from the 605 when she was often rescued from peril by a middle-ranking antipodean marsupial in Skippy, through to her current position as host of Collector’s Lot, with huge quantities of sitcom and drama in between.
Goddard is well aware of the nature of this latest challenge. ’T his is one of the greatest parts ever written for a woman,’ she states baldly. ’I've been carrying her around with me lately, as you do when you perform a part, and I’ve found my inner Lady Bracknell.’ Surely a rather alarming trait to discover? ’Not at all. It’s a thing all women should have, it makes you more assertive.’
Wilde’s rapacious old dragon, who stands like an iron bollard in the way of the marriages of the play’s two young couples, is very much a
product of the play’s Victorian society; as are all the characters, according to Goddard. 'At the time,’ she explains, 'people of that class were very self-assured, because they quite literally ruled the world. It didn’t really change until World War I, when so many of the young men of that generation of upper class twits died. A lot of the ideas about the use of husbands that she puts forward are right. All these men had to do was
Trivia pursuit: The Importance Of Being Earnest
hunt, shoot, make witty conversation at dinner, wear the right clothes and be able to dance.’
Goddard has particular ideas about how to play this, too. ‘lt’s a farce, really, with real people in ridiculous situations. The thing about farce is you have to be very serious - the more serious you are, the funnier it is.’ To miss this one would look like carelessness.
At arm’s length: Giselle
CLASSICAL BALLET Giselle
Glasgow: Theatre Royal, Wed 29 Sep—Sat 2 Oct, then touring. Scottish Ballet are opening their retrospective season with one of their well-remembered past successes. This quintessential romantic ballet enjoyed a legendary production by the company as far back as 1973, before its young star Robert Doherty was born. How does he feel about performing a piece of such antiquity? 'I prefer this kind of ballet to the more modern kind of dance. It helps to know the part you're dancing is telling the audience a story.‘ And a strong narrative it is, telling the eerie story of a love between a peasant girl and a prince, which survives beyond the grave.
So the twenty-year-old feels comfortable with a ballet first
performed in 1841, but what of its director, deputy artistic director Kenn Burke. ’We're not talking about a museum piece here. It's not surprising that young dancers admire it so much. It's a kind of yardstick. They can test themselves to their limits with a dance as complex as this, and weigh themselves against past generations of dancers. it’s a challenge they're usually keen to take up.’
Of his recently announced resignation, Burke comments: ’There were a lot of changes at the company, so it seemed the right time to leave. If I stayed much longer, I'd have had to commit to another two years, and so I thought I'd put myself before the company, for once. I'm looking forward to a bit of a rest for the moment.’ After so much good work, this period of repose seems well- deserved. (Steve Cramer)
Stage whispers Re:treading the boards
RESIGNATION SEEMS TO be the current trend in Scottish theatre. The latest departure is Irina Brown, Artistic Director of the Tron theatre for the last three years, who has announced that she will be leaving at the completion of her contract in December. The past year can’t have been easy for Brown, who has had to cope with a long period of closure and half-operation as the recent renovation programme was completed. No word of a successor at this stage, and Brown, in the meantime, continues work on what, it emerges, will be her final production at the Tron, David Greig’s The Cosmonaut's Last Message To The Woman He Once Loved In The Former Soviet Union. This was a pet project of Brown's before the Tron's temporary closure, so seems appropriate as a last word.
Tl-IE TRON HAVE also received £35,000 from the trustees of The Peggy Ramsay Foundation, after a new work developed by the theatre, Zinnie Davis’ Further Than The Furthest Thing, received the 1999 Peggy Ramsay Award. This award, named after the literary agent who helped develop such writing talent as Joe Orton and David Edgar, carries considerable prestige, and also provides a £5000 award to the writer.
A COMPETITION YET to be settled is the National Review of Live Art. This organisation proposes a grant for one established artist and one or more emerging artists based in Scotland, for performances in Oct 2000. Applications will be accepted from performers, as well as artists working in other media. With an emphasis on contemporary work, this competition works toward a final showcase in Glasgow. Applications close on 29 Nov, and should be addressed to New Moves International Limited, NRLA New Work 2000, 8 John Street, Glasgow, G1 110. lnforrnation is also available on 0141 564 5552.
Moving on: Irina Brown
23 Sap-7 Oct 1999 THE U81 B1