Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 14 Oct * at *
Slapper and tapper: Sophie Ward and Gerrard McArthur
Although first produced in 1941, no doubt under the imminent threat of the Luftwaffe enforcing an unplanned intermission, Blithe Spirit seems very much a play of Coward's inter-war generation. This was the last period in which the upper classes c0uld shamelessly parade their affluence
NEW WORK Myths Of The Near Future
Tramway, Glasgow until Sat 7 Oct at t a
\ 7; Q
Body politics: The Drowned Giant
Stuart Laing's trilogy of JG. Ballard’s short stories both fascinates and frustrates. Dealing With the decline of both body and mind in a dystopian future, the three pieces form a thematic Whole, but are uneven in gualrty. As well as the suburban semi Which forms the venue for The Enormous Space, a study in agoraphobia Which deals With a disturbed, imprisoned man, there are two pieces at Tramway, The Drowned Giant and Myths Of The Near Future. The first of these is not so much a show as an aspiration, as laing,
64 THE “ST 5- 19 Oct 2000
before the country at large before being supplanted by an era in which the servants were released and a rough stab was made at sham egalitarianism.
It is strange, then, that Philip Prowse should choose to update this production to the present day. The characters here, complete With a servant girl straight from Ben Travers, are surrounded by CDs and portable tellies. We don't see the kitchen, of course, but wouldn’t it be full of the microwaves, dishwashers and washing machines that would make kitchen staff redundant in the post-war period? It might seem churlish to grOuse at what we can't see, but Coward’s comedy is anchored to the non-logic of his generation of bright yocing things, and some of that is lost in the updating.
All the same, the polished dialogue is still there, and is well delivered by Gerrard tvchrthur as Charles, husband and novelist. His gangliness is well used With the appearance of the ghost of his first Wife, EIVira (Sophie Ward) who has him Jumping abocit in startled fascination, while his second spouse, the eminently more sensible. Ruth (Andrea Hart) looks on mystified, unaware of the apparition The trouble is ostensibly caused by an incompetent seance conducted by Madam Arcati (Ellen Sheean) the local clairvoyant, and escalates from there.
The quality of the acting is epitomised by the interplay of Hart and Ward. The latter's Elvira, described as 'morally untidy’ by Charles, provides the kind of sexmess that reminds us that all men love a slapper, its other women who have trouble With them (speak for yourse/f: ed). In the straight-laced Ruth, Hart creates a plausibility and depth which her comic fOil role doesn’t, on the face of it, seem to offer. (Steve Cramer)
showmg us design models, pictures and Video, explores the possibilities inherent in Ballard’s reworking of Gulliver’s Travels in which the giant is washed up on the shore, dead. The dismemberment of its body symbolises Our own body and mind diVide, our high ideas hanging on a tattered coat upon a stick. Laing shows the corporeal and dissectable body through gruesome models and real photos and films of the dead.
Now, it may be necessary to show such forensic; ickiness to make the point, but whether the frequent, slightly repetitive display of pornographic images in Myths Of The Near Future shades into the gratuitous is more contestable Tam Dean Burn plays a man in search of his ex-Wife, who has disappeared to the now abandoned site of the first American space programme With a delusional illness, believmg herself to be a space traveller He too easily persuades a woman he meets there (I ucy lvchellani to imitate his Wife's erotic poses, and begins to manifest his former spouse's complaint.
There is potential in this piece, yet there are too many rough edges to fully satisfy. A disturbing series of works which show great intellectual coherency but little focus.
MODERN CLASSIC Two-Way Mirror
Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 14 Oct at r: is
The first of two short plays in Arthur Miller's Two-Way Mirror, takes you into a bouclOir which is somewhere between Blanche DuBois and Bet Lynch. Some Kind Of Love Story _ combines the New York detective With The Present Situation: TWO'WaY Mirror the gangster's moll. Within a storyline that confuses you in the way only gangster mowes know how, these characters obsessively tWist around each other, While trying to grasp some kind of imposSible truth.
Elegy Of A Lady ~ the second fragment in Miller’s double-edged comment on the search for hopeless realities r— is glued to, and simultaneously disengaged from, the framework of Some Kind Of Love Story. In a chichi Sth Avenue boutique, a man seeks a present for a dying woman. The dialogue between man and shop assistant becomes a stream of consciousness, the search for the gift, like the search for insider information before, veils the pursurt of truth.
While Anne-Marie Timoney and Tristram Wymark do very well in playing these four dysfunctional characters, it seems that the passion of the first play is too distant from the solemnin of the second to connect the two as an effective Whole. Nevertheless, Two-Way Mirror does hint at perennial Miller themes, characters are ’still looking for a tag With real written on it’. Aren't we all?
ONE-MAN SHOW Funhouse
Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 14 Oct
We are, of cOurse, what we repress. Eric Bogosian's T983 monologue explores this idea With the cool detachment of the writer Who Wishes to describe, but not engage. We’re brought on a tour of male sexuality from that of the insurance salesman to that of the tramp, from full-body rubber fetishist to sado-masochist, but whether we’re any the Wiser about these manifestations of the simmering semiotic beneath our upright patriarchal exteriors remains Open to question. This is a play With much to show but little to say.
For all that, there's a tremendous one-man performance by Steven Scott, who goes a long way toward saVing the evening With a performance of Vigorous energy and versatility. On a fascinating dollar-bill-plastered set, to DJ Craig Reece’s thumping musical accompaniment, Scott shows us voyeurism while making us voyeurs, leavmg us With the figure of a condemned man condemning us for watching the spectacle.
This meta-narrative process finally pOints out that art makes peeping Toms of all of us. Fair enough, but so What? The problem for Bogosian’s script, updated as it is from Reagan's era to Clinton’s is that its assOCiation of sex and consumerism in late capitalism has nothing profound to say about the observations it makes. (Steve Cramer)
Like A Virgin
East Kilbride Village Theatre, East Kilbride, Thu 5 Oct, then touring
’ I 2 .
insidious kinky: Steven Scott
Gordon Steel's delightful piece of popular theatre locates a neglected strand in the current sciene, barking back to the popular social comedy/dramas churned out so effortlessly by Hull Truck and such companies a feW years back. The story of two young Madonna wannabees from the schemes breaks feW conventions, but a lot of hearts, Judging by the \x'eepy sniffs emitted from its audienc e at Paisley.
Angela (Angela Darcy) and Maxrne (Carmen Pieraccinii, both sevei‘iteen, spend their lives ‘laughing, ioking, skiving and smoking', until they get themsel: es a gig at (jraiigemouth Masonic Hall, and must find a band to play With at short order Later, tragedy intervenes in the form of illness.
There is an initial foray into politics as Angela's single mother it aioie (assidyi comments of their council estate ’We should have a not, cause then somebody might do something’ but the play soon abandons it to concentrate on the comedy and melodrama underpinning the relationship between the two girls Strong playing from the central character‘s makes Simon Sliaikeys production a delight, With the scene in which the two girls practice 'the position of the week in a glossy girls maga/ine a particular highlight Just an old—fash1oned good night out all round (Steve C ranier)
Tight perfomances in Like A Virgin