cili‘s‘sic ADAPTATION

Phaedre Edinburgh: Royal Lyceum, Sat lS—Sat 29A r.

Whea we walk into the auditorium of a traditional proscenium arch theatre, the first thing we see is the set. It gives us our first information about a show, setting the tone for what we're about to see. The Royal Lyceum has a consistent record of high quality design, but has pulled out all the stops for Kenny Ireland’s production of Phaedre.

Adapted by Edwin Morgan, this new Scots version stars Gerda Stevenson, making her first appearance since resigning from Stellar Quines, as the eponymous middle-aged woman who, in the absence and possible death of her husband, develops an incestuous passion for her stepson. The tragic consequences for all concerned of her husband’s return from his adventures form the catharsis of this epic tale of blood and miscegenation.

The job of conveying all this through design falls to one of tender years but undoubted ability. At 24, Isla Shaw has already built up

Designing woman: Isla Shaw

an impressive CV of creative design, which was capped with the 1999 Linbury Prize for stage design, awarded for this production, which incorporates a radical redesign of the Lyceum’s auditorium.

'We've built right over the top of the stalls, and cut through the proscenium arch, so that we've created theatre in the round, with seating on the stage and in the grand circle,’ says lnverness born and Australian raised Shaw. ’There's an amphitheatre effect to this, so it’s actually quite Greek. There are two big sails which duck under the proscenium arch, so it feels like a single space, rather than two separate spaces.’

It’s a marriage of tradition and innovation. The unorthodox use of space brings a radical new look, while the shape itself echoes a much older form of theatre than your average 19th or 20th century rep. It also allows for a proximity to the action which most stages of this kind can't produce. ‘Because the stage is quite high, almost at the level of the grand circle, it's actually only 1.5m above the audience,’ says Shaw. ‘Being closer to the actors is important for the audience, because although this is a story of kings and queens, we wanted to give it an ordinary, human dimension.’

(Steve Cramer)

CLASSIC PLAY Three Tall Women Perth: Perth Rep, Fri M—Sat 29 Apr.

Albee damned, It's Edith Macarthur

The author of WM '5. Afra’u’ Of Virginia Woolf, Fdward Allie-:2 rs also, at the age of 7?, one of our greatest living playwrights lloforzruzs for everc-smg strict control over the rights in his pays, Albee has granted permission to Perth

theatre re a rare iai 0‘ arainhr/

his ritost l)t'-"S’;l‘.€il :rl lhe pl ry, which is set Ell the hedrcom of a '.'.'ealth, sr-er'rigi. her

(Ci'YiliéillKfll r‘ use and yetiriri lawyer in

atterdar‘te, uses all three represert facets of t? e phi»,~.‘.ricrht s mother A (.‘ithartir work enabled Albee to feltitt’flislup, St: suCCessflilly that it won the i‘ulrtze' prize l0! Dranra Ill 1994 Perth iheatre has succeeded in sec :_.-.'.iir: the rights where many before have l82l€-‘(l f-tr good reason

Firstly, its drier tor Rir hard Llrgby-Day has a wealth of previous experience directing Albee's plays A week before rehearsals started on a play about the life and death of a 92—year-old ta'or‘iarr, Digby-Day's own mother (lied a? the age of 94 (onsequently, its been a (lOll‘JllfllllLl tune and one win/rt the

)'3:“.'l {(1 expermrxe, “.0 li-‘S’,7|.L’} (fill

etfre'ttel‘, prolulerr‘

director describes as weirdly fortuitous 'I keep thinking my mother must be laughmg,’ he says.

Forturtous in more ways than one, the production would not have gone ahead save for the chorce of its leading lady, who the director himself describes as the ’greatest of all livmg Scottish actresses’. Recently awarded an MBE- for services to drama, Edith h‘iacaithur welcomed the much covete': previously taken by only three a! fumes, Maggie Smith among them

’lt's the most difficult part I've (lrim- for


a long time,’ she says and follownig a

‘ruellino da\ 's rehearsal okes, '1 think 9 s / l

this might be my swan sonu, certainly

the \.\ ay I feel now anyway.’

An actress at the height of her powers, Macarthur shuns the idea that ’there's no parts for women over 40' and when

asked what wrll come after Three Tal/ .

Horne/i she replies 'l never know If something lovely comes up then I’ll do it, but I can't imagine anything that could be bigger or more challenging than this. It's a marvellous piece of work

and I think we all very much want to do

it Justice' (Catherine Brom'eyl

preview THEATRE

Stage whispers

Re: Treading the boards

THOSE WHO LOOKED forward to the opening of festival season at Pitlochry only to be dismayed by news of the closure for refurbishment of its Festival Theatre need not repine altogether. Running from 15 May to 30 July, a somewhat shorter, but quite lively looking fringe is promised with three replacement spaces scattered around the vicinity. The shows proposed look likely to appeal to Pitlochry's travelling audience, with a mix of proven performers and new plays to whet the appetite.

Paul Godfrey's adaptation of Whisky Galore, which travelled down from Mull Theatre to delight audiences at the Lyceum and throughout Scotland a couple of years back, will return for the Fringe. This radio play within a play depicts the performance of a 305 BBC wireless adaptation of the novel, in which farcical misunderstandings are seen by the audience but remain miraculously unheard by the imagined listeners. was well received by audiences in the summer of 98, and should please crowds again.

Postman’s Knock, a show based upon the letters of such famous bods as Groucho Marx and Rabbie Burns looks set to delight, with the emphasis on the 'light'. A double bill of one-person shows Lady Bracknell's Confinement will explore the idea that the grand dame of The Importance Of Being Earnest was in fact a man. Billed as a dark fantasy, it is paired with Wendlebury Day where we explore the psyche of a possible serial killer, from a blackly comic angle. The Laird Of Samoa, recently seen at the Netherbow in Edinburgh, will explore the latter years of Robert Louis Stevenson in the South Pacific.

All of these will be performed at the Atholl Curling Rink, while elsewhere, at Pitlochry Town Hall, the Atholl Players will be performing Derek Benfield's A Fish Out Of Water, a satire of package holidays which has the cantankerous Agatha arriving at a hotel on the Riviera to wreak havoc among her fellow tourists. If you're interested, you can book by phoning 01796 484626.

Babe at the Beeb: Fletcher Mathers in Whisky Galore

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