year ou :u . .. .f. 9' . three groun W“ reworked clas J
off are SUSPE " :
brings Candide : : centre. Words: Hannah M
SOME MIGHT FEEL INCLINED TO REST ON
their laurels after ten years of breathless acclaim. Others might have the ttrge to take an 18th century French classic. relocate it to a dystopic [Mist-apocalyptic fttturescape. and bring a whole lot of performing schoolchildren along for the ride.
Arguably Scotland’s most acclaimed theatre company. Suspect (‘ulture haye little to proye: but the scale of their new production. Candide 2()()(). indicates that their ambition still precludes complacency. Written by Dayid (ireig. Suspect Culture's in-house dramaturg and the country‘s most dizzyingly prolific playwright. ('umlide 2()()() is a furiously—paced modern version of \v'oltaire‘s satire. set in a shopping centre.
As the cast rehearse in (ilasgow's cayernous ()ld l’ruitmarket. the set is not yet in place. but the building's air of desolation and disappointed commercial endeayour proyides an eyocatiye backdrop for a fragmented. frantic. yet gently tragi-comic script. (.‘olin .\Ic(‘redie (familiar from his screen work in 'Iitggurl. S/m/luu' Grave and Small Faces) plays a wide-eyed fast food waiter who sees his certainties collapse as tribal factions form around him. A psychotic entrepreneur. a gangster with cannibalistic tendencies. a gorgeous nomad and a morose one-buttocked businesswoman do little to smooth his path to enlightenment.
Like many of Us. Suspect (‘ulture's artistic director (‘iraham liatough first encountered ('um/ide at school: and hated it. 'The subtleties of Voltaire's incisiye satire wer somewhat lost on a room full of gigglin fifteen-year—olds.‘ he laughs. However. th company's work led him back to the text. ‘A lot of our work — ()m' llin Street and Airport
'We wanted that SOs/70$ civic building look of concrete tiles, stainless steel rails, perspex panels, the places where kids used to hang out on a Saturday, on the rob.’
particularly — was concemed with notions of how geography effects psychology. Wed been looking at life stories in terms of geographical space. and I remembered Candide. which is really that theme in tarrrwnis.‘ ()n re-reading the story. Eatough was inspired by Voltaire’s
juxtaposition of grotesque black humour and weighty philosophical
enquiry: a duality that is reflected in Suspect (‘ulture’s version.
The shopping centre setting also harks back to Eatough‘s misspent youth. ‘We wanted that (i()s/7()s ciyic building look of concrete tiles. stainless steel rails. perspex panels. the places where kids used to hang out on a Saturday. on the rob. Symbolically. it‘s an emironment that belongs to young people.‘
Young people are central to ('(mdide 2()()(). A group of ten to fifteen young non—professionals has been recmited for each touring venue: as well as forming part of the cast. they have participated in the creation of the show. liatough was keen to combine professional and non- professional performers. bttt without compromising in terms of resources.
L'nlike most outreach projects. Candide 2()()() has been conceived on an ambitious scale. assisted by sponsorship from Barclays; but it retains elements of what liatough refers to as ‘the dreaded community project‘. It’s a balance of which he is particularly proud. "l‘he kids play a vital part. David and I worked with them for six months on the main ideas. the set. the script. the music. They can see their own input and they get that sense of ownership. My approach has been to treat them as equals. because we have stttff to learn from them too.’
Not only do the younger cast members inspire their elders. they’ye also put their director‘s early literary judgement to shame by taking eagerly to the original text. 'lt‘s funny how many of them have responded so well to it.’ Iiatough admits. 'Much more intelligently than my initial one.‘
Candide 2000 is at Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, Thu 9-Sat 11 Mar, 8pm; Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 6 8: Fri 7 Apr, 8pm. See theatre listings, page 57.
2-—16l\.1ar2003 THE lIST13