Alison Mackenzie gives a Bowlesy
performance M U S l CAL
Dundee: Dundee Rep, until Sat 27 May *** it
From the first glimpse of Dundee Rep’s cavernous auditorium, elaborately transformed into the luxuriously seedy Kit Kat Klub, complete with front row tables, shiny drapes and glitter-ball, audiences can confidently anticipate a night of sparkling, intelligent entertainment. While the Rep’s Cabaret
trims some of the subversive fringes of
Kander and Ebb’s enduring classic (including the protagonist’s bisexuality) Hamish Glen’s energetic production remains faithful to the original’s spirit of devilish, divine decadence against
Y INSTALLATION ; The Path
Glen Lyon: until Sun 4 Jun 1k ****
Nature with added extra
God got there first. The magnificence of Glen Lyon, deep in darkest
’ Perthshire, IS undiminished even when
drenched in misty midnight cloud. It doesn’t need Glasgow's nva organisation to tell us how beautiful it is. It speaks for itself.
Angus Farquhar's company is well aware of this. Whatever you’d call this
event (it is not theatre and little like
visual art), The Path is substantially more than a late night sponsored walk. lt's nature with added extra. No other two hours in hiking boots and
the last days of libertine excess. Ensemble members quickly settle into the show's dramatic interludes. Supporting players do solid work in thankless minor roles and there are particularly moving portrayals from John Buick and Ann Louise Ross as the star-crossed middle-aged couple, Herr Schultz and Fraulein Schneider. But the power of the piece lies in its musical numbers and in this respect Dundee’s Kit Kat Girls and Boys (and girlie boys) fire on all cylinders and then some. A couple of showstoppers are sadly absent (Maybe This Time, Money), but
. this is more than compensated for by
imaginative, witty choreography, slick band playing and committed performances on favourites like Don’t Tell Mama and Two Ladies.
Although the production's success is very much a team effort, it’s fitting that a pair of outstanding performances should be reserved for the show’s most demanding and rewarding roles. As the all-seeing Master of Ceremonies, John Ramage captures a perfect blend of seedy charm, camp grotesquerie and pathos while Alison Mackenzie shines as Sally Bowles, bringing a defiant vulnerability to the iconic character.
When Liza Minnelli sings ’Life is a Cabaret, old chum’ it's as an unabashed salute to hedonism. Mackenzie’s uncomfortable, smear- faced interpretation underlines the song's irony, providing a perfect crystallisation of the hollow excesses of 19305 Berlin and recalling a civilisation on the verge of upheaval.
cagoules will ever be quite like it.
You get the first sense of what’s going on as your minibus turns a corner and, across the alluvial plain, you see a fiery light on a hillside. Up close, it’s a string of tiny bulbs illuminating your walk up the mountain, over a wooden bridge and down the opposite side of the gully. It’s your future snaking before you. And, halfway through, it is also your past.
En route we stumble across various ’interventions’, a band of Portuguese drummers, a light show picking out the features of a waterfall, a tree hung with ribbons, vague human figures picked out in the distance, a Tibetan nun singing an a cappella lament, voices of the glen’s residents' recalling apparitions and folklore. They are subtle intrusions, in sympathy with the landscape, and you might miss as many as you discover.
They amount to two things: a celebration of the landscape and a meditation on mountain cultures worldwide. Never mind the real Tibetan sherpas who help you on the steeper slopes, it’s as if nva has taken on the role of sherpa itself, taking us by the hand and guiding us on a journey through the social, geographical and historical aspects of this corner of the Highlands. If it lacks the big set-piece theatrical moment that Farquhar's best work has achieved, this unique production is thoroughly conceived, brilliantly accomplished and has a steady cumulative impact that will not be forgotten. (Mark Fisher)
BALLET Cwmni Ballet Gwent: As You Like It
Paisley: Paisley Arts Centre, Mon 29 May
Abstract ballet’s all very well, but even the most impressive display of technical excellence can only satisfy the viewer up to a point. Without a narrative structure in which to submerge yourself, technique can often flounder in a sea of audience complacency.
One company which regularly turns to that most prolific of storytellers, Mr William Shakespeare, for material, is the small but quite adequately formed Cwmni Ballet. The principality’s only ballet troupe won high praise for its three previous bard adaptations, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and its most recent page to stage production, Twelfth Night.
As You Like It, one of Shakespeare's most accessible plays, takes place in the magical forest of Arden, where lovers are not just star-crossed, but occasionally gender-crossed, too; perfect fodder for a company whose aptitude for dramatic style is matched only by its deserved reputation for innovative costume and set design. (Kelly Apter)
COMEDY The Real Wild West
Edinburgh: Brunton Theatre, Sat 27 May, then touring ibka
Playing fast and loose with Scottish history, David Cosgrove's The Real Wild West presents a comic two hour journey through the history of Argyll and the Isles from the Picts to the present. Local bartender (Kenneth Lindsay) takes two English tourists (David MacDowell and Andrea McKenna) on a hallucinogenic journey through the story of Caledonia's conflicts, but there are enough contemporary cinematic and cultural references to ensure that one foot of this production is kept firmly in the present.
If some of the early material is a bit ropey it definitely picks up momentum, the clear highlight being when three puppets play out a hilarious sketch about the respective merits of Scotland's religious denominations. Despite the lacklustre opening, the actors visibly respond to the increasing strength of the writing; the script does not need a broadsword, but it could certainly do with a little trimming. The Real Wild West might not be straight from the history books; but there’s enough critical commentary on the past to provoke the audience to think a little. This is theatre with broad popular appeal that makes the audience laugh. lt's entertaining and it’s thought provoking. What more do you want?
MUSICAL Elvis The Musical
Edinburgh: King's Theatre, until Sat 27 May 1t **
You’re either an Elvis person or a Beatles person; that's how the world can supposedly be divided. Some may appreciate the Scousers' songcraft, but Presley was the consummate entertainer. Three 'Kings’ tell his story convincingly, skilfully aping both appearance and voice, despite ’mature' (read hamburger) Elvis being far more svelte than the man himself. From a sixteen-year-old cutting a record for his Mom to a drugged, overweight man sweating through kung fu moves to Vegas show tunes, we get the highs, and well that's pretty much it.
The plot is paper thin and told in the most ham-fisted fashion, shots of the 19305 Depression are juxtaposed with strains of ’In The Ghetto' early on, despite him being a country boy. We are spared his rather unglamorous, lavatory-seated demise and most of the off-stage events and characters are glossed over.
So what if it’s cheesier than Tesco’s deli counter, this is entertainment Presley- style and what matters are the songs. Track after track of soaring, rumbling, sexy rock ’n’ roll reminding us what all the fuss was about. (Mark Robertson)
The man who would be king
25 May—8 Jun 2000 THE “ST 87