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Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling, Tue 29 M

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ou might think that Orwell’s classic novel was an

attack on oppression in the old Eastern bloc. But

it’s only Big Brother (his, not Channel 4’s) that makes you think that. It wasn’t Orwell’s intention. At election time, in fact, the novel never seems more relevant. We seem, these days, to have a choice between the rigorous right-wing, neo-classical economics of the Conservatives, or, well, the rigorous right-wing, neo- classical economics of Labour. Perhaps historians will look back at these days of ours as the era of the Tory-Labour alliance. And the other parties aren’t really

so different either.

So freedom from choice is what you’ve got, and Craig Conway, who’ll play protagonist Winston Smith in this Northern Stage adaptation of the novel is well aware of it: ‘Even in the high street, where you go out shopping and think you’ve got a choice, it’s not really so,’ he says. ‘lt’s all been put out there by a small number of people who decide what you can buy and what the fashion is. And there’s no shortage of surveillance in our society. If you go out to buy a mobile phone, or get a credit card, you get checked. They want to find out who you are, where you’ve been, even where your family have been. Make no


Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 29 May-Sat 2 Jun.

Anyone from outside of Scotland usually comes into contact with its sectarian traditions at some point early in their stay. and treats it with similar horror. It's probably because of this that folk here are often reluctant to discuss these primitive bigotries. This reluctance is illustrated by Martin McCardie's dark comedy. which displayed its quality through the laughter of its audiences when it was finally staged in 1993 at the Citizens'. but had been treguently reiected by other theatres before it reached the stage.

The play's relevance to the time is illustrated by the life experience of its author. whose origins in small town Lanarkshire. or Northern Ireland Without the bombs. as it's frequently known. were in keeping with its yOLing protagonist. This young man. convinced of his irishness despite Scottish birth. abducts a young British cadet as part of a one-man crusade for Irish nationalism. The bleakly funny consequences of his act lead to a greater understanding between cultures.

McCardie has done nothing so

62 THE LIST 2-1 May—T Jun 2001

ay—Sat 2 Jun.

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mistake, we’re still governed by a small minority.’

Purists about the novel may not find it absolutely to their liking. Alan Liddiard’s production, even given Northern Stage’s reputation for multi media work capable of creating sweeping vistas of the imagination, has imposed a few limits on Onivell’s narrative. ‘We’re not staging the novel,’ Conway explains, ‘but we want to be as faithful as we can to it. George Orwell’s son came to see us the other day. He said it wasn’t the novel, but there were a lot of elements of Orwell’s style about it. That’s what we were aiming for.’

Conway is sensitive to the interpersonal nuances of the

novel, feeling that the relationship between Winston, his forbidden lover Julia and the face of Big Brother, O’Brian are central to the piece. ‘There’s a fascination with O’Brian for Winston. 0’ Brian is at the centre of the relationship between the three. When Winston is tortured, O’Brian says “I do this to you because I love you,” and in a way, it’s true, so it’s very complicated.’

So before you vote for either Tweedledee or Tweedledum, watch this adaptation, and reflect. Maybe you’ll see beyond the celebrity appearances and hairstyle competitions this time around. (Steve Cramer)

He’s just realised who wore the green shirt first.

extreme. but his recollections of the play's opening night make fOr an interesting commentary on blind bigotry: ‘On the first night someone called me a traitor. and later the same evening someone else called me a Fenian bastard. You can't Win. But the play's about Outing people like that. and exposing their bigotry.‘

But he understands where it all comes from: 'Until I was about nineteen and went to college in England. I thought of

myself as Irish. All the kids at my school did. even the Italian Catholics! After I'd been there about three months. and lived in an atmosphere where people didn't care about all that crap. I realised I was Scottish. When I came back to Scotland I didn't want to support Celtic anymore. because I didn‘t want to be a bigot. Then I realised I c0uld support them and I didn't have to be. It took a while. though.’ (Steve Cramer)

Confronting your bigger trees

Stage Whispers The talk of the green room

GIVEN THE FINANCIAL restrictions imposed upon the organisation, the work produced at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre over the last year or so has been praiseworthy. The theatre‘s detractors seem not to recognise the declining budget at the theatre as a source of problems, and these impediments have been faced with flair and imagination in such projects as Suspect Culture's visiting company programme, and the revival of popular fringe shows. It was pleasing to see the Tron’s budget restored to its previous figure of £103,000 over the next year, with an additional maintenance grant of £100,000 toward core costs over 2001/02. We hope this will allow Neil Murray and his team to move on from their recent straitened times. It’s good to see hard work rewarded in this case, for it is not always the way with theatre funding.

'lI-llf EDINBURC-‘ill II II AllIi WORKSHOP (:oniniunitv :;ho.-.i for the summer WI” he iunn:ng by the time you read the. (3mm.- Baines' l'i/ave I‘i/ie Goodbye In an account of the lives; of l, {17"}. Girls who worked the Scotti: n timber fl()|(ifi (luring Worlri V‘itii II. The stony of E. Ilen. one such 'Lunil')eriill'. is; told through her exi'x-2ri0nce of the war. a period in the 705;. then the present day. bringing in a panorama of f)()(,l£,l| and gender history. This; production Will incorporate the skills of over IOU local people. led by a team of theatre proteszsionals. It runs; until Sat 9h May.