Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, Sat 28 Apr-Sat 19 May. Georg Buchner’s peculiar, fragmented tragedy has retained a power to fascinate audiences since it was first produced nearly a century ago, 70-odd years after its composition. The much put-upon title character, a soldier bullied by his officers, experimented upon by a doctor, and finally humiliated by his wife’s infidelity with a drum major fascinates by his external passivity and internal rage throughout. Part morality tale, part tragedy, part allegory, the text’s fragmented structure seems to anticipate contemporary drama, despite its very early composition.
Perhaps its most intriguing element is an episodic structure which leaves us constantly guessing at events. This form of narration seems to suggest a prime candidate for modern translation, and Guy Holland’s production for ktc has found precisely the man. Such earlier work by David Harrower as Knives In Hens and Kill The Old, Torture Their Young - where situations were more important to audience response than fully fleshed-out psychologies in characters - suggests an affinity with Buchner.
This is borne out in conversation with Harrower. He speaks of his admiration for Buchner in a manner that harks back to his own work. ‘He creates such a definite world so quickly,’ he enthuses. ‘I guess that’s why the play’s a masterpiece. It’s made of fragments and fractures, but it creates a world of its own.’ Harrower’s own work doesn’t seem too far away from this. ‘I prefer to drop an audience into it; I
ONE-MAN SHOW DEFENDING THE
King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 10—Sat 12 May.
If you're a man with a female partner, you'll be familiar with
is the common women's CAVEMAN adage. “all men are arseholes".' he says. ‘l'd say that some are. but we're not all arseholes.
-~-- we‘re just not like women. We don't like talking about things down to the last detail like
want people to go r straight into the play’s world.’ Buchner’s classic is a vexing philosophical piece, which echoes Kafka in its questioning of humankind’s responsibility to self and society. It queries us about how far we can explore our individuality before we become disenfranchised from, or persecuted by society. Harrower comments on this: ‘It’s about the distance between people and the world, about how far we expect the world to come to us, or how far we should go to meet the world.’ Much of that is about the play’s title role, an enormously demanding part, played on this occasion by Neil McKinven, one of Scotland’s most respected male leads. ‘Basically, he’s passive, but his mind is racing at a hundred miles an hour,’ Harrower says of the character. ‘He’s struggling for expression, and seems to be moving furiously, even though he’s trapped in a
David Harrower: Part morality tale, part tragedy, part allegory
corner. There’s a big question about whether he’s been singled out for ill-treatment, or whether he’s being punished for not participating enough.’ But this is only one of many questions that hang over a compelling and profoundly challenging text. (Steve Cramer)
CRAZY GARY’S MOBILE DISCO
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 10-Sat 12 May.
Feared by all who cross his path. the local bastard is the romantic anti-hero whose pint you'd least like to spill. Chaotic and unpredictable. the nutter that lurks in the nightmares of all innocent pub-goers is a concept firmly entrenched in the dark alleys of contemporary pop Culture.
the feeling that she‘s miffed with you. and you've no idea why. I've seen a lot of Pinter in my time but on these occasions. the silences become too extended even for my taste. American Rob Becker was familiar enough with the issue to have discoursed upon it with this one-man show in 1992. which struck a chOrd with both male and female audiences on its arrival in London, winning Aussie comic Mark Little the Olivier Award for best comedy in 2000. Little's temporary return to acting (he'll be back at the Fringe with stand-up this year) sees him address the initial premise of sexism in women. “The statement addressed at the beginning
women. Instead of asking why
men won't talk to women, this
play asks why women won't sit with men and not say anything for a while.‘
The play outlines a comic gender history over four decades. ‘It talks about the 705. when men were asked to be more like women, the 808. which men spent saying "sorry", and the last decade. where we've had new laddism and new age men. We've got to a point where blokes don't know whether
But if you're beginning to suspect that this will all be a piece of geezerish self-
justification. listen on. since Little insists on balancing out the arguments: “It's not a piece of new chauvinism. It‘s about being equal with your partner and understanding each other. This is a show where you can discover what you liked about someone in the first place. It's about building bridges and getting over it.’ (Steve Cramer)
they're Arthur or Martha.’
From Trainspotting's moustachioed mentalist Begbie. to Joe Pesci's infamous psycho-midget in Goodfe/Ias. there's no doubt that, like the home-made tattoos on their ham-like forearms. the professional ruiners of a good night out are here to stay.
‘Lots of people who‘ve grown up in small towns or dodgy areas in big cities know people like Gary.‘ explains Gary Owen, creator of knuckle-dusting DJ- come-psychopath, Crazy Gary. ‘They're the kind of guys who walk into a pub and stare around the whole place. but if you meet their eye you've asked for a fight. You know. their personal space extends ten metres in front of them.‘
Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco follows the misadventures of the aforementioned Gary, in his quest to beat the crap out of everyone who caused him to lose his tawdry disco gig at a local pub. “It's one of those hell-holes in small towns where they still have these blokes going around with one set of traffic lights that beat in time to the music. playing 80s soft rock}
Set on a birthday night out in South Wales. other characters in Owen's black comedy include Matthew. a wannabe karaoke king. and Russell whose mission is to dump his girlfriend. However, Owen evidently has some sympathy reserved for Gary. as part of his story also involves the black-hearted beasty bOy falling in love.
'I started writing it out of revenge. Gary was based on someone I absolutely hated. and I just wanted to make him look like an arsehole.‘ admits Owen. ‘But obviously you can't write well if you have contempt for your characters. and I even ended up slightly falling in love with him. So I called him Gary to remind myself that. really. l was as much of a tosser as he was.’ (Olly Lassman)
Everyone knows someone like Crazy Gary
26 Apr-10 May 2001 'I'I‘IE LIST 61