The Dream Train
Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, Fri IZ—Sun 14 Nov.
If you’re on the Nightol, have yourself a medication vacation and board Tom McGrath’s Dream Train instead. Set in a twilight zone of sleep and insomnia, this first production by new Scottish company Magnetic North interweaves storytelling with Bach’s Goldberg variations. McGrath acknowledges the music was instrumental in more ways than one: 'The music began to suggest characters, but the way in which music influenced the piece directly was in moods. Ultimately, Bach is joyous, so different from drama, which deals with conflict, suffering or catharsis.’
Best known for social dramas such as The Hard Man, McGrath does not see his latest play as a departure, drawing as it does on a comedy style of surreal episodes common to both The Android Circuit and Laurel And Hardy. He also likens it to The Hitting, where dream sequences juxtapose scenes of reality. 'In The Dream Train, dreams and wakened states are mixed up,’ explains McGrath. ‘There is confusion between the two of them. That helps me to express what I feel about the nature of human consciousness, in a way that I wouldn’t be able to in a soap opera format.’
Tom McGrath's Nocturnal admissions: The Dream Train
Grandson of a railway Signalman, and railpass-toting train hopper, McGrath promises The Dream Train is ’great fun, moving and mysterious’, and guarantees it's too full of surprises to be an instant cure for insomnia. On for only three days, you’ll have to be quick to catch it. If you snooze, you‘ll lose. (Katherine Marshall)
Rock 'n' fig-roll: David Brown as Gyro Proon, with Alistair MacCulloch as Smythe
NEW THEATRE The Rise, Fall And Rise
Of Gyro Proon
Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, Fri S—Sun 7 Nov.
Based on a project model of working with people with learning disabilities, Lung Ha's Theatre Company’s first production was intended as a one-off performance. Now celebrating their fifteenth anniversary, it’s particularly apt that their new show is about the steady climb to success.
David Brown plays humble crooner Jim Plum, who, after performing his Elvis-style signature tune in his local club, is plucked from obscurity to become a rock ’n' roll star. ‘This is David’s first show with the company, so it gives him the right innocence for the part,’ explains Pete Clerke, co-founder of the company and co-director on this production.
Capitalising on this charm and innocence is the evil agent, Flank ‘Backnote’ Smythe, who changes his star’s name to Gyro Proon and secures his manipulative position by getting him hooked on lemon sherbet. As he's swept up by his meteoric rise to fame, Gyro neglects his true love Daisy and the play develops into, what co-
director Catherine Gillard describes as,
’a classic love story’.
Written by John Harvey, the play intercuts live action with video footage of its TV presenter character, Gaynor Fortune, speculating on the Gyro phenomenon. The play also incorporates live music composed and performed by musical director, Jon Beales. 'In its dealing with manipulation and image over integrity, the play is very funny and very satirical,’ comments Clerke. ’But it also has the capacity to be quite moving.’ (Catherine Bromley)
CLASSIC ADAPTATION Farewell Miss Julie Logan
Edinburgh: Netherbow Arts Centre, Mon IS—Sat 20 Nov.
The Scottish Actors’ Initiative present their annual showcase with this J.M. Barrie novel, adapted for the stage for the first time by the artistic director Donald Smith. It’s a timely tale appropriately slotted between Halloween and Christmas and will bring a chill to your bones, a tear to your eye and a smile to your face. Set in the remote Angus Glen in 1860, it’s the story of a naive young man taking up his first parish. The Reverend does not cope well with the isolation and loneliness that comes with the bleak Scottish winter and is haunted in the night by strange Jacobite vistors.
Elizabeth Strachan, founder of the Scottish Actors' Initiative and Christily the maid in the play, would like the show to be seen all over Scotland. 'We are looking to take the piece to more Highland areas as well as to the bigger houses in Dumfries; where Barrie was born and had his first play performed, in Cumbernauld, Perth and in Dundee.’
J.M. Barrie wrote many successful plays, which have been inevitably overshadowed by his world-famous Peter Pan. Now’s your chance to see another of his masterpieces performed by a fine, lively cast. (Julie Clark)
Rehearsals: Farewell Miss Julie Logan
CROSS-CULTURAL COLLABORATION Scottish/Italian Play:Ground Glasgow: Tron Theatre, Sat 6 & Sun 7, Sat 13 & Sun 14 Nov.
You may have noticed that on the cultural front, things have been getting quite Italian lately. It's all part of the UK/ltalian Festival 1999, a nationwide celebration of the arts. In Glasgow, the Tron Theatre and the RSAMD are collaborating to bring the best of new drama from both Italy and Scotland together in a series of semi-staged readings with student actors.
Scottish/Italian Play:Ground will feature work in translation from four winners of the prestigious Flaiano Award For New Drama In Italy. ’We’re expecting the Italian writers over to participate’, explains Hugh Hodgett of the RSAMD. ’This is a showcase for the plays as well as the actors.’
Although these are readings, you can expect imaginative direction from the likes of the Tron's artistic director Irina Brown and Zinnie Harris, winner of the 1999 Peggy Ramsay award for new writing. On the Scottish side of things, work includes Straitjackets, a new play by Janet Paisley, and Cafeteria/Restaurant by newcomer Alan Wilkins.
In the course of two weekends, visitors to the Tron can anticipate a bilingual buzz that includes the fine art of cooking. On Sun 7 and Sun 14 Nov, audiences can sample a special Italian menu in the restaurant. (Moira Jeffrey)
CONTEMPORARY DANCE Julius Tomb
Edinburgh: Brunton Theatre, Sat 6 Nov. Reviewed London, Sat 23 Oct **
Julius Tomb, British choreographer Mark Baldwin’s new half-hour dance, derives its odd, august title from the unmade burial site of Pope Julius II. It’s an extended series of vaguely ceremonial sketches, accompanied by Luke Stoneham’s mysterious, bejewell'ed score for ten musicians. Dancers Antonia Franceschi (ex-New York City Ballet), Hilary Briggs and Zoe Rayne, exotic in white all-in-ones and on point, strike frieze-like poses in sometimes intricate patterns. They outclass Denzil Bailey and Baldwin himself, both clad in royal-purple casuaIs. Straddling classical and contemporary styles, the piece lacks the fizz of a truly dynamic fusion. It plateaus early and maintains a remote elegance, visited by occasional quirks. Clean dancing, unclear concept. Prettily crafted, but what's it got to do with being alive?
Baldwin, podgy and puckish, dominates Homage. Franceschi bows out of this eight-minute jape, a simple, silent quartet. Bodies shift and settle down on a bare stage. Baldwin flits through, all dry camp drollery. A Collection Of Moving Parts, a longer quartet (minus Baldwin), skims across a melange of Chopin piano pieces. Fluttery fingers and shoulder rolls, handshakes, bows and holding hands are laid atop fleet steps and slippery stretches. Franceschi’s a standout, sharp-mannered and dramatic as a sorceress. (Donald Hutera)
Getting the leg over: Zoe Rayne
4-18 Nov 1999 Ill! "8181