COME ON FEEL THE NOISE Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, Fri 21 Sep - Sat 6
Until recently, one of the most neglected resorts on the island of nostalgia land was the 703. There's long been an industry for the promotion of 60s hippie chic, while the Happy Days of the period before rock ‘n’ roll and the permissive society have been the subject of endless TV and ﬁlm nostalgia trips. There even seems at the moment, to be an attempt to render the 803, that black hole of a decade, interesting, with the return of such aberrations as the mullet. But David Mark Thomson is ﬁrmly committed to the 705 as the best source of
The artistic director of the Brunton Theatre has set himself the enviable task of recreating the era of glam rock with this devised play. Packed with music and comedy, the piece centres on four young people who form their own glam rock band. Their first gig is set for local hard man with connections Tommy McArthur’s wedding. He sets some ﬁrm ground rules at this event, and we might well imagine the consequences of a cock-up . . .
Thomson feels that the period lends itself to the theatre. ‘A lot of the bands in those days were quite tongue in cheek. They got dressed up in platforms and glitter, and approached
performance with a sense of theatre. I’ve approached it all in a kind of heightened style,
we’re kind of nodding at caricature in the characters, although they’re not complete
caricatures,’ he says.
After the social commentary of his Fringe hit, Moving Objects, this piece of gloriously unashamed popular theatre represents a radical change for Thomson, but he seems
MODERN CLASSIC JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 19 - Sat 29 Sep.
Sean O’Casey in a natty hat
The Arches Theatre continue their long standing love-affair with things Irish with a welcome staging of Sean O'Casey‘s classic play Juno and the Paycock. ‘A lot of Irish theatre is very stylised and very theatrical,‘ says artistic director Andy Arnold, ‘and it's very often imaginative and non-naturalistic. It's a style of theatre that fits very well with what we want to do. I‘m a particular fan of Sean O'Casey: he’s a brilliant writer and has an ability to write tragic comedy. that isn't written these days. He creates larger than life. but still very real characters. He‘s also a brilliant storyteller who is full of theatrical imagination.‘
58 THE LIST 6 Sep-2t) Sep 2001
The company has previously produced two O’Casey plays. Purple Dust and Cock 3 Doodle Dandy. but this is the first time they‘ve taken on one of O'Casey's major works. which will be performed while the cast rehearse Synge's The Playboy Of
The Western World. ‘lt's our tenth
anniversary this year,‘ says Arnold. ‘and ironically we've got very little money to produce drama. But I wanted to do something big and special and we thought it would be good to do these two thumping classic plays. By doing the two productions together in repertOry we've managed to get a cast of ten actors together which normally we can‘t afford to do.‘
Seven native Irish actors will team up with three Scots. and Arnold assures us that the play's setting, 19205 Dublin, will still resonate with contemporary Scottish audiences. ‘lt's a beautiful piece of writing with beautiful dialogue,’ he says. ‘It is a slice of Dublin life. but. in a way. it could be a slice of Glasgow life. That’s why it's appropriate that it is going on in the Citizens Theatre because it‘s set in a part of Dublin which is like the old Gorbals. It's an old-fashioned. melodramatic piece that is highly theatrical. but gets rarely staged these days. It needs to be done.‘ (Davie Archibald)
equally passionate about the project. ‘You could argue that this period was the last time of pop innocence. It was light, tongue in cheek, glittery; it didn’t take itself too seriously. I call the period pre-Thatcher and pre-punk.’ Thomson’s account of the lead character confirms this sense of innocence. ‘He’s called
Brian Sparkle, and he’s asserted his independence by moving into his dad’s garage. He’s got a ‘pong’ [an early computer tennis game, for those of student age], a lava lamp, a TV and a record player. He feels he’s living on the edge, but he wears tank tops.’ Need I say more? (Steve Cramer)
REVIVAL LOSING ALEC Cumbernauld Theatre, Thu 6 - Sat 8 Sep
It‘s not too often that good pieces of new Scottish writing get a second airing. The structural weaknesses of theatre funding and problems assoaated with the lack of printed plays ensure that new plays may burn bright. but their shelf life is oh so limited. But the re-appearance of Peter Arnott's Losing Alec bucks the trend. allowing those who missed its three week sell-out run at The Tron twelve years ago the rare opportunity to see it again.
Losing Alec is a modern ghost story that centres on the return from the grave of an old-style patriarchal socialist who comes back to haunt his family for betraying the principles for which he stands — in this case a particularly authoritarian style of old-style socialism. ‘lt's about what the rest of us do when that kind of Vision has gone,‘ says Arnott. ‘and what kind of life can we make for ourselves once the old certainties have fallen to the ground.‘
Arnott wrote the play in the late 808 on the back of the third successive Tory electoral triumph in the 1987 general election. He initially discussed the possibility of updating the play with Cumbernauld Theatre director Simon Sharky, but decided to let the original version stand and explore parallels with the present political climate. ‘At that point the Tories looked like they were going to be in power for ever.‘ he says. ‘Now Tony Blair looks as if he's going to be in power forever: one form of reactionary government has been replaced by another. Now we have an elected government in power that is not going to shift. so it's up to the rest of us to develop a counter- culture. it's already beginning to happen with the protests in Seattle and after. We can no longer just make reference to the powers that be and say. "you should do better". We have to do it ourselves. it‘s the only way.‘ (Davie Archibald)
The cast of Losing Alec