US DRAMA THE BIG FUNK
Arches Theatre, Glasgow, until Fri 23 Mar 0...
‘Happiness isn’t something you pursue, it’s something that happens to you while you’re doing other things.’ So speaks Omar the steak- eating knife-thrower in the Arches’ British premiere of John Patrick Shanley’s self-consciously self- reflexive play The Big Funk. And so it’s in typical Arches form that for 90 _. minutes the audience no longer needs
to pursue the elusive, being so busily entertained that the monumental asides about the anarchic nature of the human soul just kinda creep up on ya. Andy Arnold’s production is authentically ridiculous and casually profound as this New York comic concentrate is magically conjured up by an excellent cast that successfully negotiates the tightrope between the cartoon and the complex.
Jill (Selina Boyack), speaking often from her subconscious (it saves time), searches for love, but mistakes it for grease during a darkly hilarious date with a medium-sized Gregory (Paul Riley) and an extra-large sized tub of Vaseline. On the rebound she meets Austin (John Kazek), the earnest actor who cleanses her grease and momentarily her cynicism, in a beautiful bathtime scene that briefly allows the audience to luxuriate in the playful comfort of childhood. Temporarily purified, the new couple’s ensuing dinner party with Omar (Lewis Howden) and Fifi (Isabel Ross) - a Flintstonesque circus act on the eve of a surreal and mystical conception - ensures a feast of poetic dialogue and intense comedy.
The programme dedicates this casual play to the fool. And it’s the naked, honest, vulnerable fool, in the shape of the self-proclaimed hero, brilliantly played by Kazek, that points the metaphorical and literal mirror at the audience, demanding that they confront their own inner fears. This is a play with many thematic concerns, about crippled people who inhabit a crippling world, about alienation, about the desperate desire for love and companionship. Worthy stuff indeed, but its magic lies in making you think at the same time as it’s making you laugh. (Davie Archibald)
A complex tango of emotions
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, in rep
with The Trestle At Pope Lick Creek (see listings for details) until Sat 17 Mar 0....
As a young man. I spent a good deal of time in Northern Ireland. I loved it there. It was the only place I’d ever been that made it not so bad to be a yid. if you'll allow the language reclamation. But this reVivaI of Nicola McCartney‘s Traverse success of two years ago indicates forgotten histories of sectarian bigotries elsewhere. carried from the troubled land across the sea to lands of new hope.
The piece tells the stery of Sarah (Julia Dalkin) a young girl of Ulster Protestant stock. whose family have emigrated to pre-great war Canada for a better life. Their neigthurs are second generation Catholic emigrants.
whose youngest boy. Michael (Ian
Skewis) takes a shine to Sarah. The
: relationship evolves delicately from
playful hostility to passion over several
years. but as Sarah's parents (lain Macrae and Pauline Knowles) and Michael‘s grandmother (Mary McCusker) become increasingly aware of the situation, pressures on the young couple increase. Michael‘s
father (Eric Barlow) stands as a singular voice of common sense in the : situation, but makes little impression
on the deep-seated historical
prejudices involved. and a steady-
paced tragedy unfolds.
The beauty of Philip Howard‘s productiOn is its attention to nuance. The tensions between the two families have an authentiCity created through the underplaying of potential melodrama. With the exaggerated COurtesy of the bigot toward his \ictiin more to the fOre than outright hostility This latter is only allowed to \lOlGlllly manifest itself late on. McCartney’s eXQuISIIe scnpt tempers its poetry with aCute realistic observation and draws gorgeOuS performances from the cast. among whom Barlow gives an outstanding performance. while the frosty by-play between Knowles and McCusker hums with repressed malice. The power of this piece is its deployment of sympathetic characters with unSympathetic beliefs; a combination that gives its audience no easy outs. (Steve Cranieri
Sect and violence: Heritage
ARCHES THEATRE COMPANY
PRESENT THE BRITISH PREMIERE OF THE SURREAL NEW YORK COMEDY
WRITTEN BY OSCAR WINNER JOHN PATRICK SHANLEY, DIRECTED BY ANDY ARNOLD AND FEATURING SEXUAL POLITICS, THE MEANING OF LIFE AND PETROLEUM JELLY.
"...bathed In the same moonlit madness that gave his Moonatruck screenplay Its savour and flavor." Clive Barnes, New York Post
7.30pm £BI£4 6“‘- 1 O‘“/ 1 3“‘- 1 7“‘/ 1 9“’-23"‘ MARCH
253 ARGYLE ST, GLASGOW www.thearches.co.uk
in association with;
scorsmgr’i} corn Clyde'
15-29 Mar 2001 THE LIST 63