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62 THE “ST 19 Oct —2 ilo: 2000
FBy Godfrey Hamilton eaturing Mark Pinkosh
Paisley Arts Centre World Premiere
Friday 27th Oct
Saturday 28th Oct 7.30pm
Saturday 4th NOV 8.00pm
The macRobert Centre
- , Friday 17‘“ Nov
David Wilson 07974148772
Dundee Rep, Dundee, until Sat 28 Oct * * ‘k
Irene Macdougall is brilliantly vindictive Albert Camus' novel La Peste was written around the time of World War ll and, if the once sacred cows of church and society challenged in the book are less worthy of satire today, his portrait of a community's response to irrational and inexplicable mass destruction remains as resonant as ever
In adapting Carnus' work for the stage, the temptation might have been to try to draw some trite parallel with a modern day epidemic such as HIV. But, while writer/director John Retallack is
Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh, until Sat 21 Oct r r
A sectarian treatment of sectarianism?
Theatre Workshop artistic director Robert Rae's first outing with his mixed company of able—bodied and disabled actors is passionate in convrction, but not entirely convrnc'ing in effect. The play represents a reconstruction of the events surrounding the death of Robert Hamill, a Catholic inan beaten to death by a mob of drunken Or'angernan in Ulster in 1997. Four RUC officers allegedly stood idly by while the young man was punched and kicked Later, a lawyer and crvrl rights actrvrst connected with the case, Rosemary Nelson, was murdered by a car bomb
keen to point out the book's contemporary relevance, his production derives its power from its determined theatricality.
Retallack’s collaboration wrth Dundee Rep’s Theatre Company is at its most alive when the ensemble come together to the rhythm of the embattled crty, mounting its collective defence against the industrious, undiscriminating Plague (a brilliantly vrndictrve performance from Irene Macd0ugalll. A soundtrack of clas5ical pieces and chansons referred to in the novel provrdes a veneer of normality to which the Citizens cling in counterpomt to the horrors of the plague, Stripped- down staging and expreSSionistic lighting effects also add to the grotesque power of the production, clrmaxrng in an uncomfortable scene where a child suffers an agonisrngly drawn-out death.
Unfortunately, the fragmentation of Retallack's narrative, which fowses on rndrvrdual responses to the sc0urge, doesn’t always make for a gripping whole. There are strong central performances from Richard Conlon as the Doctor and Alexander West as the Mayor, but other roles are under- developed, leaVing occasional holes in the action. The text is shot through wrth black humour, but there's also an overall coldness to the production that prohibits any real emotional connection
Despite these reservations, P/ague is a bold, imaginative work that more than confirms the Dundee ensernble's reputation for intelligent, innovative fare (Allan Radcliffe)
in suspicious circumstances It is deplorable that no one has been convrcted of the murders.
All of this is documented through a group of largely fictional characters, some of them Scottish, by a series of tangential connections One strand of plot has a Scottish solicitor rNabil Shabanl becoming involved wrth the Nationalist struggle in Ireland through a connection with Rosemary Nelson, Another sees a y0ung pregnant girl (Melanie Bradleyt discovering new depths of bigotry in her Rangers supporting partner (Ilm McSharryi, who refers to her Asian friend (Anu Kumarl as 'a Hamilton Accie’, He later becomes involved, a little implausibly, in Violent events in the SIX c0unties.
While the narrative, aided by cleverly used back prorections, runs smoothly enough, not all of the personal relationships between the characters are sufficiently developed, given that the persoiial, is, after all, political, You wonder, as well, whether the proselytismg spirit of this deVised piece isn’t in itself a little sectarian in its condemnation of sectarianrsm, particularly in Scotland. As a Hibs supporter, I’ve heard some ugly stuff from the opposition fans when we’ve played Hearts or Rangers, but cocild condemn it more readin if there weren't similarly bigoted chanting from Our own stands This demonstrates a problem Scotland needs to address, but the parallels with the troubled land across the sea, whatever their common origins, are thankfully incomplete (Steve Cramerl