Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 12-Sat 16 Feb


The only genuinely inexpensive leisure pursuits left to us in modern society are sex and hillwalking. And even these two harmless time- flllers can be rendered more costly if you choose to purchase expensive equipment to accompany them. The other thing about both activities is that it’s important to choose a partner who roughly matches your age and fitness level or you’re liable to finish up distraught and cream-crackered.

Just such a sexual miscalculation is made by the eponymous Bob in the late Andrea Dunbar’s play, which so astonished London audiences two decades ago. It centres on the carnal exploits of a middle-aged husband with his two teenage babysitters and its success led to the

hit British film of the same name a few years later. Set on an impoverished Bradford council

estate, where the green stuff is at a premium and the chosen cheap recreation is not hillwalking, Max Stafford-Clark’s original production at the Royal Court was a revelation. Stafford-Clark, who was artistic director at the Traverse Theatre from 1968-1974 as well as being behind Mark Ravenhill’s Shopping And Fucking, is revisiting the play for the first time in this tour with Out Of Joint. He recalls his contacts with the author, who died tragically at 29 after completing only three plays, with obvious affection, and shares her reaction to the film. ‘The film takes on easy options, whereas the play shows the damage that can


CAVE DWELLERS Paisley Arts Centre, Thu 14-Sat 16 Feb, then touring

Nicola McCartney: Not sympathetic

Last month. two economic migrants were discussing life in their new country of Scotland. They were not under any threat in their countries of origin. but they'd still chosen to come here in order to better themselves. When you think about it. people could accuse Nicola McCartney and I she an Irish woman. me an Australian man of arriving here and using up the country's resources. But they never do. It's not so easy for all immigrants. however. and McCartney's new play for 7:84 aims to explore the iniquity.

Set in a cave in an unknown country. the play explores the lives of three people awaiting a human trafficker. who might assist them in their bid to find some place of safety as

58 THE LIST 31 Jan—14 Feb 2002

refugees. 'When I was doing the research. I was looking at peOple who have undergone this process.‘ says McCartney. ‘What happens to people in that situation is that they're robbed of identity. With no welcome in their new c0untry and no place to come back to. they have nowhere to call home; their identities become global. Here it‘s a Question of legality. and local people find it hard to distinguish between aSylum seekers and illegal immigrants. The desperation and the danger that people who put themselves in the hands of human traffickers are in is not appreciated.‘

Those who suspect that McCartney is indulging in a kind of knee-jerk liberalism should be quickly disabused. ‘l'm not completely sympathetic to these characters.‘ she says. “They're human. like everyone else. so I've tried to amid the sentimentality that sometimes attends the plight of these people.‘

As with previous work such as Heritage. her Traverse hit about sectarianism. McCartney has approached the play through a kind of poetic vision. looking at her characters from oblique angles and addressing the politics of their situation through a human dimenSion. It's a treatment that might shed much-needed light onto current events. (Steve Cramer)

Show us your Bob

be created, with the women picking themselves estate twenty years on. Stafford-Clark sees the up and going on at the end,’ he says. ‘Andrea would never have thought of herself as a feminist, but she was angry at the situations men put women in. She was really quite upset by the film, which ended with Bob launching himself through mid-air at the two girls. The play is also very funny early on, but it goes deeper into the world of the characters, which is very engrossing, but people who come along talked to a lot of people involved in these thinking that it’ll just be a good night out like the film need to know it isn’t the same.’

The play will be followed by Robin Soans’ A State Affair, which examines the same council

two pieces in tandem as presenting a slice of recent British working class history in microcosm. ‘Rita, Sue And Bob, Too was set at a time when an attempt to create an underclass was in process,’ he says. ‘A State Affair looks at the way in which all the institutions like trade unions, chapel and adult education that sustain working-class identity have been eroded. We

communities when preparing, and things like

heroin have replaced what people had before.’ This might be a history lesson contemporary

audiences could use. (Steve Cramer)



Brunton Theatre, Musselbrurgh, Fri 1-Sat 16 Feb

‘lt's mad. unpredictable. ridiculous. irrational. it can't be explained. and causes immense discomfort.‘ David Mark Thomson. artistic director of the Brunton Theatre Company. is talking about love in A MidSi/mmer Night's Dream. but to my way of thinking. he might easily be talking about the two potential funding bodies which are intent on abandoning the company. and causing its clOSure.

The grandees of East Lothian Council and the SAC have. between them. managed to find absolutely zilch to fund this splendid company's future. apparently happy to see the closure ot yet another Scottish theatre company. And this time. not a sadly troubled and internally riven company like the latter incarnation of Communicado. but one of proven quality. with many recent successes. These peOple really need to get out more. If they did. perhaps the merits of this company might strike them.

As closwe looms. there's a rumour of a last ditch attempt at saving the company. with local MSP Susan Deacon writing to responsible minister Mike Watson about the matter. after contacts with her constituents and the Federation Of Scottish Theatre. Yet the outcome is uncertain. Meanwhile. as he faces tragedy. Thomson is getting on with comedy and Shakespeare's biggest crowd pleaser at that.

For all his negative thoughts on love. he also points out that it's essential. ‘lt's the most important thing in the world.‘ he says. 'lt's neither fluff nor utterly dark. it's got all the complexities of love. all its symphonic twists. You have to negotiate love in order to negotiate the world. It's the main power cable of life.‘

Thomson is keenly aware that this play is about psychological. rather than literal processes. the things we feel. but cannot rationally explain: ‘We‘ve got a very heightened metallic set. which also offers reflections and the blurring of perceptions. right from the ground you walk on it's blurred there's nowhere yOLl tread that's firm. At the end. the Duke and Duchess can't explain what's happened because it's a psychological. even metaphysical landscape.‘ Thomson's yiSion looks set to provide another of his intriguing nights of Shakespeare. We hope that common sense prevails. and it won't be his last. (Steve Cramerl

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