THEATRE reviews


A View From The Bfidge

Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, until Sat IO Mar

Making a hero out of a Villain isn't easy But when Arthur Miller created iongshorenian Eddie Carbone, With all his foibles, there was no question that the audience's sympathy, if not empathy, should flow his way And yet, here is a man who harbours inappropriate feelings towards his young niece, persecutes his immigrant lioiiseguest for being ’not right’ (sexually) and starves his Wife of affection Hardly likeable stuff, but in the hands of a master craftsman like Miller, Carbone is turned inside out until we can't fail to understand his motives The New York playwright's often simple narrative draws us into Brooklyn family life With such ease, that at times, we genuinely feel like eavesdroppers.

But the credit for this production cannot be (am solely at Miller’s door.


Sunset Song

Motherwell Theatre, Tue 20 Feb, then touring

Stewart Porter: A stern patriarch

Sunset Song has become firmly entrenched in the canon of Scottish literature And rightly so. LeWis Grassic Gibbon's novel of poverty and hardship in the farming communities of North East Scotland is such a powerful piece of writing that those who struggle beyond the initial difficulties of the language cannot fail to be moved by its rich, heartrending tale.

Alistair Cording’s adaptation does illustrate some of the problems in staging the book, the narrative style is clearly more suited to the novel than drama, but the strength of Gibbon's writing shines through.

The plot centres on the aspirations of Chris Guthrie (Cora Bissett), a young woman torn between her love of the

88 THE LIST 15 Feb-l Mar 2001

Tragedy in a Brooklyn family

The theatre world is riddled With bad productions of wonderful plays This, however, is not one of them Director Kenny Ireland has elicited compelling performances from his entire cast who create a crackling on-stage dynamic As the neighbourhood lawyer, and prophetic narrator, Tom McGovern appears to have studied at the Sopranos school of Italian acting which is all to the good Matt Costello infuses the blue collar Eddie With Just the right amount of testosterone- ciharged confusion, as he battles to remain master in his own house. And, although Miller gave the lion’s share to the inenfolk, Kathryn Howden's long- suffering, sexually frustrated and painfully loyal Wife, Bea, embodies a rare strength As too does newcomer Rebecca Sleeinan, whose hapless innocence makes the incestuous undertones all the more disturbing

A few ill-Judged and rather hackneyed staging effects cost the show its fifth star, but on the whole, the View from this bridge is mcrsive, touching and deeply tragic. (Kelly Apter)

land and her recognition of the harsh reality of rural life. Bissett expertly captures the impudent and feisty features of Gibbon’s herorne, simultaneocisly exuding an innocent warmth that captures Our sympathies as she Visiny grows into the role. Stewart Porter prowdes a convmcing portrayal of her father, the Presbyterian patriarch, John Guthrie, who rules the roost With a bible in one hand and a belt in the other. And the pair are generally well supported in a seven- strong cast, although Tommy Mullins comes from the wrong stock to present a convmcmg portrayal of Chris's brother.

The production is punctuated by songs written by Dougie MacLean and expertly performed by Bissett (of Swelling lvleg fame). And the musical

accompaniment in Ben TWist's production is foot—tappingly entertaining, if not brilliantly performed.

Gibbon’s sOCialist politics come through in the strong anti-war message as the slaughter on the fields of France takes its toll in the small community, but this is far from being a Simple anti-war play. Gibbon's work speaks to us about more universal issues. Nothing endures but the land, And yet despite the transient nature of our exrstence, human beings continually struggle to get a better hand than the one they’re dealt This month marks the centenary of Gibbon’s birth and this production is a fitting way to commemorate the event. (DaVie Archibald)

GOTHIC ADAPTATION The Mysterious Mother

Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow, until 24 Feb

All of us have different ways of dealing with grief, some of them radical But the bereaved Widow who decides, in a moment Of frengy, to chuck her son one, thereby conceivmg his sister and future Wife might be said to have over-egged the, er, pudding

If this gives away the ending of Robert Davrd MacDonald's adaptation of Horace Walpole's gothic tale, it seems not to matter This tragedy replaces ineVitability With predictability and it doesn't take a very forensic mind to spot the ultimate plot in ten minutes

All the same, the production looks good, With its characters decked out in a black that emphasises the sickness of their pallid hues Angela Chadfield's incestuous cOuntess carries the stern demeanour of the unredeeiriable throughout, looking a lot like the ghostly governess in The Innocents, and performing in the mannered style required Indeed all the cast seem to have gone appropriately stylised, thOugh John Kazek, as the soldier friend of the unfortunate groom (Garry Cooper) adds the odd surpr:sing, and pleasing, touch of realism to his performance For all the cast's bravery With Walpole's (*‘XCC’SS-Tlddell doggeiel, though, this piece does become something of an arse-epic by the close (Steve Crainer)


Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 24 Feb

Dark gothic melodrama

It didn’t start With Lady Di's death, but it got worse at that time The phenomenon of people becoming personally involved, rather than simply curious about, the dilemmas and tragedies of folk we don't know has become quite an industry. In this show, the person that most of us know, or have met, who tells us at great length and in painstaking detail of their drug and booze excesses, who we might aVOid down the pub, becomes a fascinating figure because they're famous.

In Jon Pope's adaptation of Marianne Faithfull's autobiography, there’s plenty of name-dropping to keep us interested, and a few neat observations about the protagonists drug fuelled rock 'n’ roll lifestyle With the Rolling Stones, but still the odd flash of the pub drug bore. Amanda HurWitz gives a performance full of the nervous, chain-smoking neurosis of her character, mixing confidence and Just Visible insecurity.

All the same, the script asks us to believe such romanticising as a comparison of Keith Richards to Lord Byron, an analogy I Don Juan anything to do With There are moments in the protagonists’ rise, and amphetamine-drenched fall that interest, but one feels that devotees of the singer Will be more gripped than the casually curious. (Steve Cramer)


Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 24 Feb

The ugly splendour of Harry Gibson's adaptation of Irvrne Welsh’s dark tale of human corruption is undiminished in this opened-out version for the main stage at the Citz. Tam Dean Burn gives a hideous, but in places strangely empathetic reading of Welsh’s Jambo-Iovmg, pornography- addicted bent copper, Bruce Robertson, With the humour in the part a little more to the fore than in the original studio production a little over a year ago.

The already fractured identity of Robertson comes apart as the play’s narrative, portraying the Christmas time investigation of a most murder in Edinburgh, progresses. This is a man whose identity is invested in workplace power games for, understandably abandoned by his Wife, he has little to go home to but dodgy gala pies, one of which afflicts him With a Morningside-accented tapeworm.

You wonder how Burn surVives so energetic a performance, as he assumes the multiple identities of those around him in this one-man show, but surVive, and triumph, he does, Meantime there's a good deal to contemplate in a character who is not simply a grotesque aberration, but the result of cause and effect in our culture. (Steve Cramer)

. 4o - 7 c . Tarn Dean Burn: An ugly splendour