NEW PLAY Among Unbroken Hearts
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri l3—Sat 28 Oct.
When I was a young man, but well into my twenties and still spending my evenings getting wasted and not doing much with my life, my mother would say to me: 'You can't be Peter Pan all your life'. I'd reply, I thought, smartly: 'Why not, Peter Pan was'. It was all very well, but at some point, I found, we all have to grow up. The moment of this dilemma is captured in Henry Adam's new drama.
The Wick-born writer is presenting his first full-scale production, positing the return of 22-year-old Ray to his remote Caithness home, his best mate in tow, after the death of a friend. The play deals with the complex issues surrounding the big decision to grow up and get a life. ‘They‘re heroin addicts,‘ Adam explains. 'It's more to do with a rock ‘n' roll lifestyle than a schemie thing. They're living Kerouac-style, they're artistic types of guys. They're outsiders on a quest and it's kind of romantic; but they're also very nihilistic.’
The two men visit the protagonist's surrogate grandfather, now blind and very decrepit. 'The main thrust of the play is about a young man who can’t feel and an
old man who can’t see,’ he says. ‘There's a lot of death, because of heroin and because of age.’
The ageless image of Peter Pan is significant here. 'The boys find an old copy of Peter Pan and, at first, they take the piss. But they begin to see the resonances between their lives and the book. They have this "I don't want to grow up, it's only a game, you can be gay and innocent and heartless" attitude, but it’s much more complex than this. It’s about how you live, what your values are. Can you be generous and connected to your community, or do you stay locked away in your little
Arches, Glasgow, Tue l7—Sat 28 Oct. A well-written novel is a wonderful thing. People and places come alive in your mind, and nothing (save a nasty film adaptation that casts completely the wrong actors) can take them away. You know an author’s done a good jOb when their book occupies a slot in your mind long after its placed back on the
62 THE lIST S--l9 Oct 2000
No design for life: Among Unbroken Hearts
flat? It's about being good to your community,
connected to it. These two boys think they're their own
Austeran Crawl: The Bookroom
shelf. And Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy does just that. The New Jersey author penned the tales in 1985-86 and a legion of fans locked into his obsesSion with mystery and identity. Twelve years later a package from Scotland arrived at Julie Fuller’s London home that was to change the course of her future. ’I had no idea who Paul Auster was,’ she explains. ’But a good friend who lives in Glasgow sent me
family, but their values get blown out of the water, and they see their lives as as much of an illusion as the consumer society they’re rebelling against.’
Adam's play asks some serious questions about life and transition, both political and personal, without coming to easy solutions about the problems it creates. By avoiding simple moralism, the play promises to provide us with a debating ground, not a design for life.
New York Trilogy for my birthday. It wasn’t until I’d finished reading and wanted to find out more about Paul Auster that I realised he was known worIdWidel And I suppose in a way that disappointed me because I thought he was "mine". But that’s the same with everyone I suppose.’
Fuller was so inspired by her literary discovery that she set about writing a play, and two years later its set for a world premiere, directed by Andy Arnold at the Arches. The story centres on Greta, an Edinburgh woman so obsessed With Auster that she enters into a correspondence With the author. A trip to New York takes Greta a step closer to her hero, but a chance meeting With a stranger in Central Park alters her plans. Which all sounds very Austeresque. ‘
’I was masswely interested in his themes,’ admits Fuller. ’But for me books are the artform that impact on my life the most. They open up new ways of feeling and thinking. They make things DOSSIble.' And as Fuller Sits back to watch the Arches Theatre Company perform her debut work, that would indeed seem to be the case. (Kelly Apter)
MODERN CLASSIC Plague
Dundee Rep, Dundee, Sat 7—Sat 28 Oct.
On 4 Januaw 1960, the literary world lost a great writer and thinker. The Algerian-born novelist, playwright and essayist Albert Camus was killed in an car accident, leaving a wealth of literature behind him. Forty years on, his work continues to reach and inspire new audiences.
Reviving Camus’ seminal 1947 novel The Plague, is the former artistic director of Oxford Stage Company, John Retallack. With a back catalogue of classic plays to his name, and a recent adaptation of Melvin Burgess’ controversial novel Junk, Retallack has gained an excellent reputation over the years. And when Dundee Rep’s artistic director, Hamish Glen asked him to work With the Rep's ensemble theatre company, he jumped at the chance.
’I've wanted to stage The Plague for years but never had enough people to do it,’ says Retallack. 'In a way, it’s a departure for me as in all the time I worked at Oxford, I never seemed to find time to work exclusively on something so utterly different from anything I’ve done before.’
Centred on a town gripped by a deadly disease, The Plague is the story of a fight. Not JUSt against the disease, but against the indifference in the face of human suffering. Many of the townsfolk ignore it While others choose to fight against it. In a highly stylised yet original version, Retallack turns his attention to what he sees as the three main characters of the book: the plague, the city and the narrator. The cast operates as the city, Richard Conlon plays the part of the protagonist and narrator Dr Rieux, and Irene Macdougall personifies the plague.
But if you’re still sceptical, an endorsement from Camus’ daughter Catherine can’t be bad. ’From her letter, it would seem that she reads a lot of Plague adaptations,’ says Retallack, ’I was very surprised then, when she thought my script was very faithful to the spirit of her father’s novel.’ Worthy praise indeed.
Irene Macdougall plays plague