Canongate Books, £12.99 0000

Whenever an anthology of plays is released. it invariany creates much debate as to what is included and omitted. But the editOrs of this anthology. Randall Stevenson and Cairns Craig, two Edinburgh University acaden’rics. seerv‘ to haze got the balance right. This weighty tome contains ele‘.ert plays from 530088 the twentieth century, all carefully rustified in an introductOFy essay that. unuSualIy. puts an optinustic gloss on Scotland's native theatre. The editors point out that it was not until the last century that the theatre could emerge from the religious restrictions and commercial imperatives besetting it ill preVious centuries. giving the reader a rare feelgood factor about recent achievements.

The plays themselves are a canny mix of absolute standards and near-forgotten ClaSSlCS. Una Lamont Stewart's 1947 Weegie feminist drama Men Should lA/eep rafter Peter Pan and The Steam/e. one of the most performed Scottish plays in the last decade) is included. and might be Juxtaposed With Joe Corrie's 1926 acc0unt of working-class struggle. /n Time 0' Strife, a play that has fallen victim to the 'too political lie. not right-wing enough) censorship of the post-modem theatre.

Among other authors are Barrie. Lochhead. Byrne and Bridie. with less

frequently anthologised ""” ““N

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Life is all cakes and ailments

MELODRAMA THE LAND OF CAKES Dundee Rep, until Sat 24 Mar 0..

Dundee Reps<:orhri1:trre"f It: the Icca “o'n't‘a'tit‘. is unquestionable; upbeat shows like The 7. La. . es and Changing Kevin's Stow. put the l)()8lll“.(: eiriphasis on Dundonian culture. representzng an antithesis to the blacker. IrVine Welsh school of Scots ‘.'.’l'lllll§}. Cornersely Me Land Of Cakes explores a facet of SOCIOI‘, tnat. from the outset. looks nigh on impossible to tackle Willi Dundee Rep's characteristic undaunted optimism.

So why the cheery title’;> In the words of paranoiac would— be comic. Davie: "Cake as in fruitcakes. Trolley as in “off yer".' Cakes revolves around six amiable nrnates of a local aSylum. the aptly-named Land itself. As the plot develops. their chatty. gag-ridden :eneers are mercilessly stripped away and no punches are pulled as the characters flirt and bicker. Violently giVing to their dark sides. accompanied

or published work featured. My only niggle about a valuable and immensely readable book is that perhaps one more piece from the last five years (beyond Chris Hannan's Shining Sou/s) might have been included. perhaps one by Greig, Harrower or Harris. But like I said. it's an anthology. so it‘s meant to provoke rows. (Steve Cramer)



Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Mon 26—Sat 31 Mar; King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Mon 7—Sat 12 May 0...

For all the ballyhoo that has attended this show on its many travels, it’s really just La Boheme with bullshit. All the same, it’s good bullshit, and very entertaining. Its subject matter is, on the face of it, controversial, but there’s an energy and charm about the piece which will disarm all but the most bigoted of audiences.

There’s a surprisingly old- fashioned sense of structure to the late Jonathan Larson’s musical, which observes its Broadway and classical forms closely. Adam Rickitt is the undemonstrative Mark, a struggling filmmaker on the

(Olly Lassrnanl

similarly afflicted heroin addict, Mimi, (Debbie Kurup) runs through many a crisis. 30 too do the liaisons of their friends, who include Tom (Mykal Rand) and his transvestite lover Angel (Neil Couperthwaite), and an on-again-off-again lesbian couple, for good PC measure.

It wasn’t until

Even with an ending that combines ham after the show

and cheese better than in the average sandwich, this is a great night out.

edge of a breakthrough. This character narrates the stories of a large group of arty young tenement dwellers, perhaps the central tale being that of his flatmate Roger (Damien Flood), a wannabe rock musician who’s HIV positive. His troubled relationship with a

62 THE LIST 15—29 Mar 2001

thatlreafised what it was that made all this so charming and different. It’s not really the subject matter, but the show’s underlying ideology. The American musical has traditionally embraced the individualist politics of the culture, with shows such as Oklahomal, Calamity Jane (for all its gay subtext) and Pal Joey

by increasingly unsettling (and occasionally intr'usivei live orchestrals. lvluch time is spent building up audience Sympathy Wllll the characters and they begin as an immensely likeable bunch. but midway through, when their much—awaited talent contest is unexpectedly cancelled and all hell ensues. there's as much confusion off-stage as on. The problem is that. despite the all-round high standard of performance. no substantial explanation is given for the crazed Outbursts. Perhaps we're meant to accept all this as ‘just what mad people do'. Although some reparation is ultimately made through the intensely poignant. yet frustratingly obscure character confessions. this occurs a good two hours into the production, by which time you'll probably be ready to meet the men in white coats yourself.

Rent boys (and girls)

endorsing an egoistic, on-your-bike ethic that reflects the culture. Rent, on the other hand, endorses a community spirit, its characters symbiotically dependent on each other. Even one character’s deeply traditional move west to California and reinvention ends with a happy return to the community.

There are some good performances, too, with Rickitt crafting a real sense of quandary in his character. Kurup, too, is splendid, moving and singing brilliantly, as well as being, let’s face it, a total babe. Even with an ending that combines ham and cheese better than in the average sandwich, this is a great night out. (Steve Cramer)

I See feature. page 22.


A WEE BIT OF HOW DO YOU DO Castlemilk Youth Complex, Glasgow, Thu 15 Mar. then touring 0.0

Not so much a unified SHOW as a series of inter‘.'.ea\ing monologues. this new piece by Sounds Of Progress features an eclectic mix of music and song. each setting off a particular story These tales deal in large part With the early lives of folk Will) disabilities. Each tells a story of the overcoming of forms of prejudice encountered wrthin the community. from the man who. as a wheelcllair—bound boy, is trapped in an elevator by malicious schoolmates. to the woman who cries at finally finding a place of her own to live. There's some driVing music to bop the show along and the mixed— ability cast performs well under Gerry Mulgrew's direction (With professional support from Forbes Masson and Gerda Stevenson). The nature of the show gives it a slightly uneven structure. and a melodramatic finale comes a little too suddenly for the show's good. All the same. there's some splendid singing. particularly by Claire Cunr’iingham, as a classically trained music student who struggles to find a niche. and Kerry McGregor as a rock singer struggling against the record industry's clamour for blonde birnbettes as the only kind of popular mUSiCians worth marketing. (Steve Cramer)

., - \ Much how do you do about everything