Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, until Sat l7Feb Hut
The point could be crudely made that in the current financial year the Citizens’ got £689,608, the Royal Lyceum got £586,495 and Perth got £264,504 from the Scottish Arts Council's revenue funds, while the Brunton got precisely zilch. The Musselburgh theatre is dependent on East Lothian District Council for its public subsidy and the whole thing could fall apart if, as seems possible, the council decides to pull the plug when it meets at the end of this month.
The loss of another venue in which actors and technicians can find work, not to mention local audiences finding entertainment, would be a damaging blow to the fragile infrastructure of Scottish theatre. But even that argument would be hard to sustain if the work being produced was of no artistic merit. And that simply isn't the case.
Compare the Brunton's Hamlet
always on his side.
Eddie Ladd — Scarface grabmway, Glasgow, Fri 23 & Sat 24 e .
A remote Welsh farm and the violent underbelly of Florida may seem unlikely bedfellows, but to choreographer Eddie Ladd the pairing makes perfect sense. Both, she would argue, are populated by peasants struggling to make a living, albeit through very different means. Pitching herself as the Welsh representative in the equation,
the Americans are batting a Mr Johnny
68 THE UST IS Feb—l Mar 2001
with the Royal Lyceum's recent Romeo And Juliet, for example, and there's no question the Musselburgh theatre wins hands down. It's not that it's radical in vision or exceptional in execution, just that in the terms of four-square rep theatre, it is intelligently thought out, coherently staged and lucidly performed. The result is one of the more affecting versions of the tragedy I have
If there's one play that hangs on its central performance, it is this one, and in Liam Brennan, director David Mark Thomson has found a brilliant lead. This Hamlet is no fiery warrior, no impetuous adolescent, but a young man seriously aggrieved by the behaviour of his elders. He is not so much angered as upset, his language a delicate dance of introspective debate, slipping between comic irony and frightening despair. He is emotionally troubled and we live his emotions with him, his lightness of touch keeping us
Liam Brennan makes a brilliant Hamlet, not so much angered as upset
Brennan's easy mastery of the verse isn't matched by every performance - though, in this respect, it is Thomson's most consistent Shakespeare to date - but he is in sturdy company in the senior roles, notably Michael Mackenzie's Claudius, the killer of Hamlet's father. More Mandelson than Machiavelli, Mackenzie is a cool politician who's duped himself with his own spin. His
smooth denial of responsibility for his murderous
Montana, aka Al Pacino. As a character in the Brian De Palma film Scarface, Montana arrives in Florida after Fidel Castro decides to empty his jails of their most violent occupants. His descent into the drugs world is closely followed by his rise to the top of the gangster ladder, only to find the latest breed of young hungrys snapping at his heels.
But you’d be forgiven for wondering where the Welsh farm comes in. Well, it doesn’t. At least not in the original 1983 film. But this is Scarface the show, and anything can happen. A
assent to power only emphasises the sense of moral vacuum for the idealistic Hamlet. What hope for the world when even the evil guys are so persuasive?
All this is played out on Edward Lipscomb’s Citz- inspired set of red, gold and black, a regal hall of semi- transparent drapes eavesdroppers lurk. No clutter or unwieldiness in Thomson's staging, just a well paced and increasingly gripping telling of the drama. This is theatre worth cherishing. Otherwise the rest really will be silence.
behind which spies and
blend of movement, theatre and technology, Eddie Ladd’s latest work takes De Palma's somewhat overlong film and strips it down to its most basic level, packing the entire synopsis into just 45 minutes.
Placing herself between a blue screen and a camera, Ladd goes through Montana's motions. Her movements are then picked up by the camera, mixed with footage of her Welsh farm home and projected instantly onto a cinema screen, giving you two Ladd’s for the price of one. But which one do people end up watching? 'They say most of the time they watch the screen, and sometimes snatch a look at me,’ explains Ladd. 'But you never get over the idea of "she’s there but she's not really there”.’
Thankfully, Ladd has steered clear of the dodgy Giorgio Moroder soundtrack, preferring the Welsh hip hop style of John Peel faves, Tystion. Although she has managed to incorporate one fundamental part of the film: swear words. 'Oliver Stone said he wrote 100, and Al Pacino added 150, so yeah, we‘ve got a few — we’ve even got some in Welsh.’
CONTEMPORARY DANCE i
The X-Factor -
Deception Paisley Arts Centre, Sat 24 Feb, then
As the old country song goes, ’no one knows what goes on behind closed doors'. They were, of course, referring to the good lovm’ that takes place
when nobody else IS around. Although
the line has just as easily been adopted
by campaigners against domestic f j abuse. But whether they’re Iovmg or
hating, the fact remains that other people’s relationships are essentially a
I mystery. Public smiles can easily be replaced by indoor snarls, and it's this
minor everyday deceit that inspired the X-Factor’s latest work. Over the past eleven years, choreographer and company head, Alan Greig has created a number of probing duets, most
: noticeably last year's Unspoken With
David Hughes. But haVing worked almost excluswely With men, Greig felt i it was time for a change.
’I wanted to work With a woman, and thought that what would be really i strong was a marriage,’ he explains. ’lt's all around us, it’s part of sOCiety, : you should get married, you should have kids. It's one of those things that people buy into. But then I started thinking What's actually between them? There's love, there's anger and often, there’s deceit.’
Comprising four duets and two solos, Deception is an emotional cyclone full of fast and furious movements, leavrng us in no doubt as to the protagonists f state of mind. Starting life as happy i honeymooners, the cracks in the couple's relationships soon begin to surface. And watching them in rehearsal, Greig’s partnering With l dancer Rebekah Stokoe seems to be 5 producing exactly the right amount of 5
: tenderness and sparks, with a little
assistance from Quee MacArthur’s
original score .
’You hear a voice in the music saying, "I don't know What I’m doing with my life, I don't know Where I'm going" and then you see a movement that backs that up,’ says Greig. 'Which I think helps clarify what’s gorng on, but still allows people to take something away. And although we're married, it could just as easily be two women or i two men, it’s just relationships.’ I (Kelly Apter) !
Deception: 'An emotional cyclone'