Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre Wed 17— Thu 18 Nov.
In our much-straitened times, it’s difficult to find ways of developing young writers, given the few resources available even for seasoned professionals in the theatre world. This fact magnifies the importance of the Traverse education project, Class Act, which incorporates the work of four local High Schools and 61 students. Now a decade old, the yearly programme has played a major role in the development of both interest in the theatre, and its practice by young people of school age.
Co-ordinator Paula Van Hagen details this year's programme, which is sponsored by the Bank of Scotland: 'The students have been working with eight actors, three directors and four playwrights to develop their work.‘
Giving youth a chance: Class Act
Each of the writers — John Binnie, Louise Ironside, Nicola McCartney and Janet Paisley - have been assigned a school, and are working with students to develop a great variety of pieces.
'There’s all kinds of subject matter,’ says Van Hagen, ’but the students show a lot of awareness of the world around them. There are a few plays about drug abuse, and some which debate issues around the Scottish Parliament. Quite a few of them deal with sexuality, as you might expect from people of this age, and the dilemmas and conflicts often involve parents and teachers.‘
One certainty about the shows, which are free, is their diversity, with 36 playlettes of between seven and ten minutes over two days. ’Some of them are comic,‘ says Van Hagen, ’like the one about the two sheep wanting to escape from their island, and others quite serious - there’s a whole range of tones.‘ (Steve Cramer)
MILLENNIAL THEATRE The End Part One
Glasgow: The Arches, until Sat 27 Nov iii
Magnificent Zen on a ﬂying trapeze: The End Part One
Disorientated is one way to describe the unsettling after-effect of Andy Arnold's pre-millennial freak show, The End Part One. Another more adequate word would be ’sheII-shocked‘. An extreme circus-style parody, The End uses musicians, dancers, physical performers and explosives to mind-
From the moment the lights dim, prepare to be immersed in a grotesque, anarchic performance, which, though sometimes thoughtful, more often verges on sensory overload. Hosted by a nine-foot undertaker with the kind of complexion that’s badly in need of a good moisturiser, much of Arnold's fast-moving critique of 20th century destructiveness takes the form of an absurd talent show, its performers representing lead figures in the scientific world and their discoveries. If you think the idea of Albert Einstein as a cart-wheeling female clown sounds nuts, wait until you meet the rest of this oddball entourage . . .
There‘s no doubt that all this makes for, at times, entertaining theatre, but the constant, uninhibited surrealism of the production too often obscures its more serious undertones, leaving the audience more bewildered than enlightened. Indeed, the production is so visually dazzling that it's difficult to pinpoint individual performances, although Stewart Ennis’s likeable master of ceremonies, ‘The Professor‘ and Suzie Lundy‘s versatility as a singing, dancing, acrobatic Marie Curie both deserve mention.
Don’t expect any sophisticated insights into modern history; but if you fancy an hour of theatrical eccentricity with a nuclear theme, The End Part One won’t leave you disappointed. (Ollie Lassman)
Death In Venice Glasgow: Citizens' Theatre, Wed 24 Nov-Sat 18 Dec.
Thomas Mann’s great novella charts the elderly writer Aschenbach's unspoken passion for a young Polish boy whom he sees on the beach while a cholera epidemic sweeps the city. He doesn't act on his feelings but gradually unravels emotionally as his customary discipline gives way to passion. It is a compelling portrait of a man in swift and terrible decline.
While Dirk Bogarde starred in the film by Visconti, Citizens’ director Giles Havergal, who will play Aschenbach, believes that Robert David Macdonald's new translation of Death In Venice may be the first adaptation for theatre. ’It is extremely skilful,’ he enthuses. ‘Every sentence is shaped in such a way that you realise what an absolutely fastidious perfectionist he is. Gradually, as he begins to disintegrate, you don’t need to be told. You can see it and hear it.’
Although the piece can also be seen as a tale of cultural change in Europe or of Mann’s recognition of the collapse of his own social class, Havergal says the core of the piece is its great emotional resonance."The decline into this abject, shambling, painted wreck from this extremely upright, very famous man is very moving.’ (Moira Jeffrey)
Venice on the Clyde: Giles Havergal
Farewell Miss Julie Logan
Edinburgh: Netherbow Arts Centre, until Sat 20 Nov 4: 1% it
These days, J.M. Barrie is known to even to his native Scottish audiences for little other than Peter Pan. However, this Donald Smith adaptation of one of his late tales might serve to remind us that, in his own time, he was noted for his versatility in a wide range of writings.
Barrie's work demonstrates a quality more associated with the last century than our own dwindling one - a sense of strong linear narrative. In this case, it is well displayed in the story of Adam, a young Presbyterian Minister, stationed in a remote and sparsely populated glen, who develops a relationship with the ghostly woman of the title. The warning words of housekeeper, local doctor and Lady of the Big House amount to little, as he pursues this eartth remnant of the Jacobite Rising.
Although there are some uneven performances and the tale's first half takes a little too long in the telling, the story accumulates an eerie resonance which eventually draws the audience into its naturalistic world. An interesting piece, with a generally competent handling, which makes for a worthwhile night out. (Steve Cramer)
MULTIMEDIA THEATRE Without A Trace Stirling: MacRobert, Fri 19 Nov
Ever get the feeling someone’s not giving you the full story? Call it what you like - a veiled insult, backhanded compliment or just good old- fashioned bullshit - reading between g the lines is a perilous occupation. x.-
’You never truly know why people do things - you can guess, you can try to find out, but you can never actually know the real motivation as to why that person did something,’ insists
Mark Murphy, director of V-TOL's «in latest fusion of dance and drama, ‘M:f“
The production follows the story of a woman who spontaneously abandons day-to-day life for a journey of self-discovery. Employing a variety of multimedia techniques, live music and physical theatre, Without A Trace explores the secret thoughts and actions of the runaway and the resulting confusion of the distraught friends she leaves behind. ’lt’s a mixture of projected film and dance,’ explains Murphy, 'a multi-tiered approach, each medium saying something different. You’ll see someone on stage and on film; you‘ll see what they're really thinking.’
Without A Trace also looks set to have 3 storyline as intricate as its innovative set design. ’Without wanting to give too much away,’ concludes Murphy, 'there are quite a few plot twists.’ (Olly Lassman)
Currently on the road: Vtol
18 Nov—2 Dec 1999 THE UST 77