THEATRE reviews

PHYSICAL THEATRE Hymns Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, Thu 21

Oct. Audiences have come to know and

love the physical theatre style of Frantic Assembly, whose most recent production, Sell Out, turned heads around Scotland, having been seen as recently as last Festival. But they clearly have no intention of resting on their laurels, with a new production already on the road. With distinctive and spectacular style, their combination of dance, movement and narrative has won its own cult following among theatre audiences.

While in no way abandoning their house style, there are differences with this show, as co-founder and performer Steve Hoggett points out. ’Se/l Out had more of an emphasis on

Mourning glory: Hymns

narrative than our previous shows. We were out to tell a story. We’ve taken this a bit further with this show. There's still a lot of dance involved, but we’ve been moving toward the idea of more dialogue in our theatre, and this takes it further than Sell Out. We were tempted to put in the usual amount of club music, but we decided not to indulge ourselves and kept it down to a couple of numbers - there’s other kinds of music though.’

So what’s the (ever more important) story? 'It's about a group of male friends who get together to mourn a friend who's just died. It talks a lot about loss and friendship, and what kinds of strains people are put under by friendship. It's an all male cast, the first time we’ve had a show with no women. We’re thinking about an all female one next time.’ (Steve Cramer)

Learning the art of Pulling: Denis Quilligan and John Harwood in novels With My Aunt


Travels With My Aunt

Edinburgh: Brunton Theatre, until Sat 9 Oct ****

Travels With My Aunt is unique among gloom-meister Graham Greene's canon in its express lack of seedy setting, psychotic characters and dark, pessimistic tone. Greene's 1969 novel is, conversely, a life-affirming comedy, the tale of retired bank manager Henry Pulling whose prim bachelor existence is transformed on meeting his cheerfully disgraceful Aunt Augusta. Pulling is inspired by his septuagenarian aunt’s bohemian lifestyle and outlook to abandon his prize dahlias and respectable acquaintances forever, accompanying her on a series of adventures which takes them from Paris to the Paraguay River.

Giles Havergal’s celebrated theatrical adaptation, though faithful to the novel’s episodic structure, divides Greene’s gallery of larger-thanfiife

58 THEUST 7-21 Oct 1999

characters among four male actors, each of whom also represent the different qualities of Henry Pulling's own character (Sceptical Henry, Scared Henry, Sporty Henry, Ginger Henry that sort of thing). Since much of the play’s enjoyment is derived from its memorable cast of oddballs, the success of any production is largely dependent on the performers’ energy and versatility.

Economically staged with a no- nonsense set, subtle lighting and barely any costume changes, Fiona Walton's version shrewdly forgoes frills in favour of strong characterisation, highlighting the acid wit of Greene’s/Havergal’s dialogue. The skilful cast slip effortlessly in and out of their roles, with only occasional lapses into caricature. Minimal suspension of disbelief is therefore required for the audience to accept that a middle-aged man in a suit is actually an elderly spinster, a teenage Hispanic girl or a little, fat, balding Italian. Hugely entertaining. (Allan Radcliffe)

Irreparable Dolphins Touring throughout Central Scotland until Sat 23 Oct *‘ki'

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The poetry of everyda hassles: Irreparable Dolphins

Sounds of Progress are a mixed ability band and theatre group who, for some ten years now, have been making music and theatre. For their current production, Irreparable Dolphins, the company have teamed up with Gerry Mulgrew co- founder of Communicado to create an impressionistic journey through life with disability.

The show includes video, music and monologue to present a kaleidoscope of themes, all with their origins in the cast’s own tales. Opening with memories of institutions and of unsatisfactory employment, the liberating power of music, real work and telling your own story is soon revealed. While inevitably with so much to say in such a short time the tone can be uneven, there are moments of real power in the show. From the quiet authority of music graduate Claire Cunningham's voice and experience, ’you don’t see many operas with people with crutches,’ to the raucous music and frequently funny moments provided by Michael Cannon and Kevin Howell.

The stories cross from the universal: getting totally pissed at the World Cup, to the specific: trying to persuade the bouncer that you are disabled, not drunk. Above all, Irreparable Dolphins is a rejection of limited options: making music winning hands down over a Mdob any day. (Moira Jeffrey)

NEW SEASON RSAMD, Autumn Season Glasgow: RSAMD, begins Mon 18 Oct.

The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama launches its autumn season of plays and events on Mon 18 Oct, giving students a chance to reach the paying public. RSAMD is recognised as the launchpad for some of Scotland's hottest new acting talent, but this year the New Directions season, which starts with an adaptation of Chekhov's The Lady and the Lapdog, allows students on the new postgraduate directing course to shine. 'This lS their first opportunity to work with a professional cast,’ explains Hugh Hodgart, head of acting at the academy. ’They each put together a production working with the designer Minty Donald.’

For the final year acting students there’s a broad autumn programme, but an early highlight will be the Academy’s collaboration with Glasgow's Tron Theatre in Scottish Italian Playground. This is a series of play readings throughout November, featuring new writing from Scots-Italians. ’I’m keen for the students to undertake work which has a cultural validity in itself,’ says Hodgett. ’The whole business of developing new writing is an important feature and students should get an opportunity to encounter that.’

In December, the season ends in traditional style with Jack And The Beanstalk. ’Pantomime demands a very open kind of playing, a strong relationship with the audience,’ says Hodgett. And, of course, 'they should have fun with it.’ (Moira Jeffrey)

POPULAR REVIVAL The New Rocky Horror Show

Glasgow: Kin '5 Theatre, Mon 11— Sat16 Oct; E inburgh: King's Theatre Mon 18— Sat 23 Oct.

Twenty-five years ago after he wrote The Rocky Horror Show, Richard O’Brien thinks a number of factors explain the timeless appeal of his camp moral fable (apart from it being the perfect excuse for the audience to squeeze into their stilettos and corsets).

’There is the trashy, easy accessible, pop, rock ‘n’ roll, funny show which continues to be enjoyable on that level, and there’s also the fairy tale element which runs deeper into the psyche. Stories that were told around camp fires 30,000 years ago may well be part of the DNA by now. It's a similar kind of journey to Babes In The Wood, the story of Genesis, the Garden of Eden. Loss of innocence and all the rest of it. I’m not trying to get too lofty here, I'm only trying to find some way to explain why this ephemeral piece of trash has had such a long life.’

And he never gets fed up with it. ’It falls so easily on the ear and into the imagination that it's kind of foolproof. I’d like to know what the secret is really so I could capture it again. I've seen it with second division players involved and it even survives them, somehow or other.’ (Gabe Stewart)

Doing the Time Warp again and again: The New Rocky Horror Show