THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 26 May 0000
Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy is as sneaky a piece of theatre as you’re likely to see this year. For much of its length it reassures you with a succession of well-realised pleasantries, calling on such old familiars as the sitcom and romantic drama from the 19th century, before finally eschewing these vehicles in favour of something much darker and more disturbing.
We’re presented with the story of Maureen (Anne Marie Timoney), a 40-year-old spinster living in a pit of a cottage in rural Ireland, where the mandatory pictures of Kennedys are surrounded by the grotty bric-a- brac of years of accumulated squalor. Her plans for escape from her demanding mother, Mag (Una McLean), are constantly foiled by the cunning, carping old biddy, and amid the talk of Kimberley biscuits, Aussie soaps and pisspots emptied in the sink, it presents us with a familiar old chestnut, a kind of O’Sfeptoe And Daughter.
With the entry of Ray (John Kielty) with news of a wake to which both are invited another possibility is
NEW DRAMA BORDERS FUSION
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 7—Sat 9 Jun.
Lewis Howden comes to grips with Anne Marie Timoney
presented, and after an unsuccessful attempt at a cover-up by Mag, Maureen makes away for the night. Later, she brings Ray’s big brother Pato (Lewis Howden) home and, after a night of how do you do, the two make plans for escape to Britain or America. Mag’s later attempts to scupper this bring the play into some unexpectedly cruel and ugly territory.
Iain Heggie directs all of this with a deft intelligence, always allowing us to see the spiteful subtext. He’s helped by strong performances by Timoney and McLean, whose early exchanges of discourtesies give the audience plenty to chortle at. The
director allows all the well-made- play conventions of purloined letters and coincidental meetings to speak for themselves, before springing his trap with late sequences of hideous domestic abuse, of violence accomplished with the accoutrements of everyday life.
This powerful piece of theatre is authenticated by its attention to detail, accumulating tiny observations of quotidian reality to a strange and disorientating effect, and leaving us with the feeling that there’s enough ghastliness in the ordinary to prevent us seeking it in the sensational. (Steve Cramer)
Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow, until Wed 30 May .0
There's something about a country song, with its storytelling and emotional pull. that sweeps you up in its arms. Likewise. there's something about the structured. formulaic rhythm of linedancing that snaps you up in its jaws. If you've ever found yourself drawn in by either of these song and dance artforms. then chances are you'll get a kick out of this new comedy musical.
The debut offering from Glasgow taxi driver. David Branch. Linedance Frenzy is a lighthearted insight into the inexhaustible passion which drives hardcore linedance fans — and the neglect felt by those left at home twiddling their thumbs rather than their toes.
Stalwart country band Trampas provide a live musical accompaniment which, along with accomplished performances from the central characters. gives the show
For some peOple. the most significant thing between the Lothians and Cumbria is the A74(lvl). But how many of us ever actually stop the car while travelling south and take time to look more closely at the land immediately north of the border? Not many, reckons Stewart Aitken. director of Cross Country Theatre's first production. coming to the ‘Burgh metropolis in addition to a fourteen-night tour of Borders venues.
‘Peopie don't really have any idea of what The Borders is.‘ says Aitken. 'In many peOple's minds it's another age away.‘
Following in the tradition of what he calls ‘Who We Are and What We Stand For' theatre which has developed in Scotland through groups such as 7:84. TAG. and writers such as Stephen Greenhorn and Liz Lochhead. Cross Country seeks to shed new light on Borders life. 'We wanted to give a voice to the writers of the region and have come up with a diverse mixture of ten pieces. ranging from 90 seconds to twenty minutes long. some from first-time writers.‘
The works convey the influence of the area on the writers' lives and Will challenge our regional preconceptions. ‘The cultural things that are foremost associated with the Borders have been updated and fused with modern artists: the Borders also has a 2lst century voice and opinions.‘ (Gareth Davies)
its backbone. For a first attempt at playwriting, Branch has done reasonably well. The plot may be a little thin and the denouement far from clear. but the dramatic arc fits snugly around the action and the snappy dialogue contains more than a few belly laughs. While the dancers may not be the tightest ensemble in town. walk into any linedance club and this is what you’ll see; folk having a good time. which ultimately is what this show is all about. (Kelly Apter)
MUSICAL COMEL‘N WAKE ME UP IN THE YEAR 2001 Pavilion Theatre. Glasgow, until Sat 26 May 00
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Bee Gees and
It's 1076 and six guys and gals are llt’lVIllt] a ball at Glasgow's Savoy nightclub. ()ne guy's heading oft the followrng day to get miraculous in Marakesh, but inadvertently gets turbo-charged into the year 2001. He awakens to a strange world where money comes out of holes in walls and Rangers are signing Catholics, yet finds comfort that his flares are still all the rage. For some reason he wants to make up wrth his ex, so where else can he head but back to the Suav Sav for a romantic re~ union?
Davrd Cosgi'ove and Bruce Morton's threadbare script is peppered With woefully weak one~liners. poor Jokes about big cocks and a plot that is barely one step tip from ()or Wullie. But the pleasure to be garnered in this production, directed by Sheridan Nicol. is in listening to re-hashed versions of numerous 70s numbers; in this case reasonably performed. Unfortunately. I've had a better time at the Saturday night karaoke in the Old Govan Arms.
It might sound like a bit of artistic snobbery to be critical of a production whose all- singing, all—dancing finale manages to shake almost the entire Pavilion audience to its feet. Yet it's impossmle to escape the feeling that they deserve much better than this cheap. shoddy workmanship. (Davre Archibald)
24 May—7 JUll2()()1 THE LIST ea