TRANSLATION MOZART’S NACHTMUSIK Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 17 Nov 0.
All talk? Anne Marie Timoney and Tristam Wymark
What is it that we fear about infidelity? Is it the sexual act itself? I suspect that this troubles us much less than the idea of intimacy. in a bigger. more emotional sense. It might be disturbing to think of your partner having adulterous sex with someone else. but surely it‘s the thought of the affection and the kind of talk that
goes on afterward that's really troubling.
These dynamics. and much else besides. are explored in Robert David MacDonald's translation of Ralph Hochhuth's German play. ln it. Hofdemel (Brendan Hooper) a government functionary at court in Vienna confronts his wife Magdalena (Anne Marie Timoney) shortly after the funeral of Mozart. In the course of their argument. he reveals that he has despatched the composer in a complex act of revenge after her long-term affair with him. Various revelations occur between the dysfunctional couple during a tense and argumentative first act. before Hofdemel‘s death in an attempt upon his wife's life. The second act switches from the politics of emotion to a more conventional exploration of power. the politics of politics. as the Emperor (Tristam Wymark) first interrogates. then
conspires with Magdalena.
MacDonald's production takes us through a labyrinthine exploration of power in art. politics. gender and sexuality. and boasts strong performances from all three hands in the cast. Of these. Wymark's arch campery as Leopold II is particularly engaging. bringing a sense of comic nuance to otherwise earnest proceedings. But Hochhuth's play paints with words. not pictures. and the fascinating subject matter is rendered a little less so by the static nature of the piece. As one interrogation follows another. there's a tendency to repetitiveness that diminishes. rather than heightens the many reflections upon bad faith in both love and political
culture. Telling. but talky. (Steve Cramer)
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 9 & Sat 10 Nov.
Being a necrOphiliac must be a pretty relaxed lifestyle. No arguments with her indoors about what to watch on telly. double portions at restaurants. Stay out as late as yOu like: what's she going to do? Turn up at the pub? The only potential downer is that your rating on the old sanity-ometer might fluctuate a bit. Same goes for schizophrenics. But let's be honest. you'll never be short of mates.
In Cold. Peter Straughan's dark exploration of the cuckoo’s nest. we meet a group of mental patients and discover that inside. we're all just a wee bit snooker-loopy. 'You think. what have I got in common with a necrophiliac. a guy who has sex with corpses?‘ says director. Rachel Ashton. 'He's fallen in love. it's as simple as that. We all fall in love. we don't get to choose who with.‘
On a barren stage. a dialogue takes place between a psychiatrist and four of his patients. while an eerie string quartet emphasises a sense of cold isolation as the characters gradually develop. ‘Two of them are murderers. one's a serial killer.‘ says Ashton. ‘One's a necrophile. and the fourth is a bit of a mystery: all we know is he has
62 THE LIST l--l ‘3 Nov 2001
a form of schizophrenia where instead of voices. he hears loud music.‘
The Ashton Group is keen to stress that the play is not intended to be a frank depiction of psychological disorder. but a blackly comedic insight into the human condition. wherein even the psychiatrist begins to see the insanity inside himself. ‘lt's not about mental health.‘ she says. ‘lt's about five men trying to discover who they are. A doctor trying to understand what's motivated these people. and finding that he can't. but he's starting to see it in himself and it scares him.‘
She adds: 'We did very little research into psychopathology. for example. although we've had people from the psychiatric profession admit they recognise an awful lot of it. All that really should tell us that psychopaths aren't that different from the rest of us.‘ (Olly Lassman)
Loony tunes: Schizophrenics hear music in Cold
FARCE BEDSIDE MANNERS King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Mon
12—Sat 17 Nov.
It's not without a sense of irony that I break down laughing as the informal interview l'm conducting disintegrates into confusion. 'lt's a French farce if ever there was one.‘ Mr Tim Brooke- Taylor murmurs. returning after a brief absence in which he'd tried to locate the owner of a mobile phone which persisted in ringing as we chatted. ‘As I went out of one door. he came in thr0ugh the other.‘ It's life imitating art. Bedside Manners is set in a seedy hotel where the manager (Brooke- Taylor) juggles the lives of two separate c0uples. neither of whom must meet each other. for reasons which become obvious as the play goes on. Coincidentally. the ex-Goodie first experienced the farce genre in the company of John Cleese. creator of Faw/ty Towers. ‘We'd gone to see an old Ray Cooney play. and I expected to hate it.‘ he says. 'but l came out crying wrth laughter.‘ He plays down any comparison of Bedside Manners wrth Cleese's classic. however: ‘This is
Goodie manners: Tim Brooke-Taylor
a play about couples. rather than running a hotel.‘
All farce is abOut communication. something we'll forever have trouble with. it seems. ‘Farce by email,' Brooke-Taylor predicts. ‘is the farce of the future.‘ (Gareth Davies)
East Kilbride Arts Centre, until Thu 1 Nov, then touring 0.0
In a world where the most frightening things On television are news reports. gothic horror might seem a rather obsolete form of drama. with its camp cliches and melodramatic tone. In Our enlightened times we need a different. more modern form of horror to chill our blood.
Of the five stories told by Theatre Fusion in its latest production. two are routinely dramatised tales from classic fright-meister Edgar Allan Poe. but it is the play written by company member Richard Wright that really catches the spirit of modern horror. A contemporary ‘love story' through the eyes of a stalker. Haunter is initially very funny. serving to make the horrific denouement all the more unsettling.
We're back in Bates Motel territory with the level of pSychosis here. and there is something genuinely chilling about Greame Kerr's solo performance. But in the end. the camp becomes too much and the melodrama too weighty for us willingly to suspend Our disbelief. Wright's play aside. there is little new or original here. and though the live musicians helped create atmosphere. they are not employed enough to be truly effective. All the performances are strong and accomplished. but I've seen more terrifying things on Parkinson.
Fear is the key
ONE-MAN PLAY MASTER OF THE HOUSE Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 7—Sun 11 Nov.
What drives a person to commit a heinous crime? External factors which become so extreme they can't help themselves? Or is it like the tabloids say. they were Simply born evil? It's a Question playwright Zinnie Harris and actor Neil Herriot have been asking themselves a lot over the past two weeks. Written and directed by Harris. Master of the Hoose operates as a kind of confessronal. during which Herriot (aka Christie) chronicles the events leading up to an act so catastrophic it changes life irreversibly for all concerned. The storyline hangs on a relationship which fails to live up to expectations. but the underlying question is what made this particular man get so out of control?
‘The characters very comphcated.‘ says Herriot. 'Within Christie there's a good guy. a bad guy. a lover. a gentle person. somebody who wants to be a good father but can't. somebody who runs from responsibility but Wishes he didn't.' By giving Christie an everyman duality. Harris is enSuring the audience remain on his side despite the nature of his crime — or at least appreCiate that none of us know what we're capable of until tested. ‘You c0uldn't look at Christie and just say "he's a bad guy".' says Harris. 'In fact he's trying to be one of the good guys. and the tragedy is that he's unable to be.‘ (Kelly Apter)