SOAP ON STAGE
High Road Glasgow: The Pavilion, Wed 2—Sat 26 Aug.
Any Glaswegians unable, or unwilling, to venture East for the Festival need not worry about missing out on their theatrical fare. For those fictitious characters from the small, sleepy village of Glendarroch are heading for the big smoke as The Pavilion hosts a near month-long run of High Road. A cast of twelve, featuring all the old favourites — Sneddon, the McDonalds and Mrs Mack - make the transition from screen to stage as audiences get the first ever chance to see characters from Scotland's very own soap opera live in the flesh.
At this stage the script — penned by High Road principal scriptwriter Patrick Harkins — is being closely guarded, but the stage version will definitely be on the light-hearted side says Derek Lord, the actor who for the last seventeen years has played Davie Sneddon, everyone's favourite villain. 'lt'll be a pretty upbeat affair with a little singing and dancing,’ he says. ‘In fact they’ll probably have me singing a couple of daft Irish ditties.’
Like most of the cast, Lord started out as a stage actor and relishes the opportunity to return. ’lt’ll be good fun
SHAKESPEARE Romeo And Juliet
Cap-u-Iike: Ilyria's Romeo & Juliet
you actually haven't
Bar of soap: The High Road folk relax in the local
to get back on the boards again,’ he says. ’lt's much more exhausting and it takes a lot more out of you, but you get a buzz and you're able to feed off the audience. On television you’re just playing to a camera and you don't know how well the material is going down. With theatre the satisfaction is immediate; although so is the pain if you die.’
So as thousands flock to Edinburgh for all sorts of artistic experimentation, Glasgow does High Road. A calculated two fingers to theatrical elitism, or what? Well, not according to Lord. ’lt's just an accident', he says. ‘It fitted in with our television schedule. The week that we start rehearsals is the week that our current series finishes shooting.’
Lord is aware that High Road may not be the type of theatre likely to attract much critical acclaim, but seems none too bothered. ‘We’ve been going for so long that critics tend to leave us alone,’ he says. ‘But when you do a stage show, every so-cal|ed expert on the theatre comes along sharpening their knives and looking for a soft spot to bury it in your back. The critics can say what they like but I don’t think our audience will be too influenced. Eight hundred thousand people watch it every Monday night, so if half of them come along we'll be laughing.’ (Davie Archibald)
she says ’But there's also a lot he wrote that was tongue-in-cheek Too much of it gets spoken very slowly, conducted in a very regal manner"
She continues 'Academicallv and historically, we've done a iot of research, and, at lllyria, we believe these plays are meant to be amusing and also challenging, funny and very fast, performed much in the style that Shakespeare would have used.’
Unusually, for Romeo And Ju/iet lllyi'ia has opted for a five-person cast, and chosen to avoid the intricate, period production values often associated with Sit<ik(.‘S[)(‘(il'("S plays ’We don't go for traditional costuming,’ says Draine ’We don't think that actors would have worn tights and ruffs in Slt(lk(‘Sl)(‘dl'(‘<tlt t:mes either We've tried to make the costumes as bold as possible ’
But hardcore She adds ‘We only use five actors in
Maybole: Culzean Castle And Country Park, Thu 27 Jul; Stirling: MacRobert Arts Centre, Fri 29 Jul.
Describing itself as 'a roaming band of Sltdk(’8l)(‘(if'(‘<ilt nuts', llyiia has a non- confoiinist take on Shakespcnire that means even if you've seen Romeo And Juliet before and you probably have
conservative Bard fans can sit tight authenticity is as important to lllyi'ia as its innovative approach
lhe company's Laura Draine feels that by vrevwng Shakespeare as Just another playwright, audiences and performers are less restricted by preconceptions Shakespeare often wrote sliov.'s that, these days, we treat very much with a reverence for the text, which is fme,’
our Shakespeare, because we believe every scene can be broken down to lUSi five actor‘s A lot of the actors toured nationally, with five or six of them Just going around With a horse and (art performing the plays in the countryside That, basically, is exactly what we do, we've tried very hard to remain faithful to that ideal '
SHAKESPEAREAN CLASSIC Romeo And Juliet
Edinburgh: Hopetoun House, Fri 21 Jul, then touring.
When Channel 4's number crunching brain-babe, Carol Vorderman, was unexpectedly stumped by a Shakespeare-related question on Who Wants To Be A Mi/lic)naire?, a nation was clrvrclecl Likewise, when ’our Carol' later confessed that she found Shakespeare ’dull’, a cheer went up from the sofa-dwelling masses Thousands of dedicated Bard-lovers vowed never to watch Countdown again
So if, when it comes to Stratford- upon-Avon's greatest export, you're still firmly in the Carol (amp, Richard Main, producer of Chapterhouse Theatre's latest Shakespearean offering, is one of a growing number in theatre who think it might not be Willie's fault at all 'The problem is a lot of people seem to do Shakespeare and don’t always get across the whole meaning,’ he says ’lvlodern audiences shoulcl think "YESl I understand this; I know why this character's doing that." You don't need bright lights or eclectic imagery, it's all about getting the emotions through '
Main also argues that, even in a tragedy like Romeo And Juliet, not enough attention is given to Shakespeare’s funny side. 'lt's an incredibly dark play, but there's humour there too, you can't miss it. Especially in the first half, Shakespeare implants humour in the play which, at the time, wouch have been put there to uplift the audience,’ he says. ‘One i'evrew described “the hilarious l\«lercutro" We definitely went for that. Otherwise, it could all be deathly depressing.’
Chapterhous’e Theatre Company's trademark ensemble cast, elaborate Eli/abethan costumes and an original score combined \Vlilt its choice of picturesque outdoor venues, including castles, country houses and heritage sites, looks to recreate the easy-going but immersive ambience that arguably offers an experience more akin to Shakespeare's original vision 'All our venues are outclooi‘,’ says Main ’l think there's an intimacy and relationship with outdoor audiences which you don’t necessarily get in a theatre We're extremely lucky really, jUSi to be able to do this It's guite lovely, and very romantic, to be able go somewhere completely different, a beautiful place is very special both for us and the audience ’ (Olly Lassmam Romeo 8: Juliet, too: This time it's comical
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