REVIVAL Same Time, Next Year
Edinburgh: Royal Lyceum, Fri 30 Jun—Sat 29 Ju.
‘I feel like I’m at the base camp of Everest, looking up and wearing a pair of flip-flops.’ On the face of it, the statement doesn't inspire confidence, but the slightly intimidated speaker does. David Robb has a record of making big, scary projects come right.
Since his first appearance a few years back in company with his wife — High Road star Briony McRoberts — in Coward’s Private Lives, Robb has turned director, with some pretty credible results. His production of Dead Funny netted good houses and critical admiration, while last year's Things We Do For Love provided both amusement and scope for reflection for its audiences.
The mountainous task he’s referring to is combining acting and directing, as he will for the first time with this production of Bernard Slade's 705 American comedy of sexual and social manners. Robb explains how it came about. 'Kenny (Ireland, Lyceum artistic director) came up with the idea for the play. He wanted Briony for it because of her profile with High Road, and I suppose subliminally thought of me for the other part in a two-hander because of Private Lives. I rather cheekin asked if I could direct it, and after his usual snigger of "greedy bastard", he agreed. Doing it is a bit of a schizophrenic experience, because you have to trust your own judgement, but actually, it's going to be fun.’
Slade’s play tells the story of Doris and George, two married people who meet in 1950 and embark on an affair which continues for a few days each year up to 1975, the time of the play's first production. In the course of its story, it displays the changes in American society that occurred throughout the period, observing the effects on the illicit couple.
Christopher Biggins is an elaborately self-deceiving schmuck
"Greedy Basdard": David Robb
’Because it's 25 years old, it has more resonance now,’ Robb says. 'The third quarter of the 20th century is an enormous period, going from post-war optimism to the Vietnam war. It's amazing to think there's only twelve years between Doris Day and Jimi Hendrix.’ There's a kind of slickness about the play, according to Robb, which allows us to get over the moral dilemma of adultery. 'The author was a screenwriter, who worked on sitcoms like Bewitched in the 605, and that shows', he says. ‘This isn't a great play, but it's a smart one. It's great fun, and it does have something to say about the human condition.’ (Steve Cramer)
disreputable Mrs Erlynne into the life of Lady and Lord Windermere, havrng ostenSibly tempted the latter into an indiscretion, is an attack on the ‘fallen woman dramas’ of such contemporaries as Gilbert and Pinero. The text itself veers between comedy of manners and strong drama, as Wilde stretched the form to its limit. But the serious end of the play, which questions the hypocrisy of its society's gender politics was not fully realised on the night, as the audience tittered through even the darkest moments, which were played almost parodically
If some of the drama was lost, there were Still some delightful moments of comedy. Liza Goddard’s hard-faced survivor is well realised, while Christopher Biggins carouses his way through as her elaborately self- deceivmg schmuck of a suitor Helen Franklin and Richard Hansell also work
Lady Windermere's Fan Edinburgh: King’s Theatre, until Sat 24 Jun * t *
So playful was Wilde’s approach to conventional dramatic genre that his texts, for all their sparkling aphorisms and cogent inverted logic, can present difficulties for performers and
58 THE “ST 22 Jun-6 Jul 2000
audiences alike. It's perhaps for this reason that the climactic scene of this play, where one of two women must suffer ostracrsm from London society and the ruin of her reputation, seemed to be played more for the giggles it received than the drama of its Situation.
Wilde’s tale of the entry of the
well with as the rather drippy couple in crisis. Not all of the performances were of gmte this c'ons‘istency, but the dialogue, played With less of the archness than one expects from Wilde, is well handled, giving the audience plenty of quality set-piece put-clowns to admire (Steve Cramer)
CLASSIC ADAPTATION Rhapsody On St Stephen's Green
Glasgow: Tron Theatre, Wed 28 Jun—Sat 1 Jul.
'As far as l knot-v, this is the first production of the play srnce its premiere in 1942’ So says Andy Arnold, artistic director of the Arches, of this Flann O' Brien adaptation of Karel and Josef (,apec 's The Insect Play. The Czech writers produced an elaborate, surreal, exrstentialist rnetaphor of a play, an unguestroned 20th century classic, which showed a tramp observmg insects, and revealing parallels between their absurd and reified lives and our own. O'Brien’s adaptation was considered controversial in its time with the Dublin production incurring the wrath of the Catholic church lilt‘ play closed Within a week.
The subsequent story of the play is fascinating. All attempts at a revrval of the play were frustrated by the disappearance of the text, which was simply lost, Only a few years back, the University of i||:nois bought the arc hive of the Garrety Theatre, where the play was produced Among the clust- covered relics which had been purchased, an actor’s prompt edition of the play was uncovered. The publication of the text has given Arnold the chance to indulge his taste for all things Irish, as demonstrated in the recent Arches season.
For those with a penchant for big casts, largely absent from our fiscally challenged theatres in recent years, this play might make a satisfying experience. Once again, Arnold will be working with f.na| year student actors from the RSAMD Those who remember his Marat/Sade wrth the parallel group last year wall have no doubt of the quality of this produc tron.
'The piece has eighteen to twenty actors’, he says. ’If you look back to the old repertory system, or even the casts at the Royal Lyceum. in the late 60$, you'd see regular casts of 25 or 30; these days you get about SLY. or eight. And this as a really nteresting piece. It gives the students and audiences a chance \‘iliil S()i‘.‘:(‘ii‘.ll‘.Q surreal, and getting away from the brc, Brtzsh realist tra:::‘.‘:)n ' .Steve ("ci’t‘t‘Ti
Anty realism: The little bugs from the RSAMD