ADAPTATION MISERYGUTS Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh,
Fri 22 Mar—Fri 19 Apr (not Sun/Mon)
Now, we all know someone who can start an argument alone in a room. Sometimes they’re mates and sometimes people we hope we see across the room first. The thing about them is they’re not sympathetic. Liz Lochhead is well aware of this and has set herself the mammoth task of creating an ultimately likeable version of one of the notable arseholes of theatrical history.
But if anyone can do it, Lochhead can. Her previous, highly acclaimed adaptations of Moliere such as Tartuffe have brought the house down, while her collaborations with director Tony Cownie in such pieces as her version of Chekhov’s Three Sisters have created some rare and beautiful moments of theatre. This contemporary Scottish version of Moliere’s The Misanthropist is, because of all this, awash with possibilities. Her version tells the story of Alex, a man who sees himself as a plain speaker; his troubled romance with Celia, a bit of a slapper who brings him no shortage of grief; and the people around them who they abuse and disgust. It promises to fascinate.
But can we like such folk? ‘I think so,’ says Lochhead. ‘Alex is successful because he’s frank. He
justifies what he says by saying that unlike most people,
he cares. He’s mad, but he’s funny and very recognisable. Really, he’s motivated by sexual jealousy, which is always interesting. As to Celia, well, she’s a
bad, bad girl and causes him a lot of pain. You can call it
cuckolding or your girlfriend sleeping around on you, but the human heart doesn’t change over the centuries. It’s the same now as it was in Moliere’s time.’
So we can’t find Celia sympathetic, surely? Well, we can actually. “She’s got so much charm, and she’s a free spirit, she can’t help herself,’ says Lochhead. ‘She doesn’t see what the problem is. Besides, there’ll be a
S&MG: Jimmy Chisholm in a media world of corruption
lot of women in the audience who secretly want to be a bad girl.’
Lochhead’s Scots adaptations have attracted much acclaim, but this version isn’t in Scots. Lochhead is quite specific: “It’s what I call Scottish speak. It’s standard English with a wee bit of Scots colloquialism used ironically, very like the language of the modern media world it’s set in. There’s cliches, buzzwords and much casual profanity, all in rhyme. We’ll have to see how that plays to a Lyceum audience.’
Very well, if past productions are anything to judge by. (Steve Cramer)
CLASSIC MEASURE FOR MEASURE Dundee Rep, until Sat 30 Mar
Sleazy listening: Hamish len directs a story of modern corruption
What would you do? Your brothers in prison. threatened With a death sentence for a minor crime. "l he only
64 THE LIST '1‘.» Zit’. Mai 7902’
way of saying him is to give in to the demands of the acting head of state to shag him. That's the simple dilemma at the centre of Shakespeare's classic study of sexuality and power, for this critic. perhaps his greatest.
This dark comedy has a contemporary relevance. Marty's the JOkC in our culture about the high heidjin politicians, implacable captains of industry and sepulchral high court Judges whose private sexual practices render them. be it in false nappies or leather masks. figures of ridicule. And as we all know. the jokes are not Wild speCulation. The power of sexuality to subvert our outward facade of professional control. manifesting another unacknowledgerl form of power. operates through pop stars and fans. presidents and interns: the lot.
Hamish Glen. artistic director at Dundee Rep has chosen to set this production in the present day. Isabella is the nun whose dilemma With Angelo. the head of state, is at the heart of the play. 'We've added a scene where
she's assaulted at the beginning of the play.’ he sa 's. 'This leads to her puritanical lifestyle in the play. Angelo is actually very puritanical too. almost asexual. and it's her similarity to him that leads to this overpowering attraction he feels.’
Writers Ron Whyte and Peter Arnott have worked With Dundee Rep's community company to add some spiky, comic street-scenes. givuig the whole production a dangerous. rough. contemporary feel.
As Dundee Rep awaits the outcome of negotiations With its local authority over the future of its acclaimed resident company, it'll be presenting a powerful argument for its continuation in this production. Glen won't be drawn on the stage they're at. but even Willi a recent boost in funding from the SAC there's still a substantial shortfall. We Wish them luck; the work produced at the company over the last couple of years has been of high quality and Scotland can ill afford another loss of this kind. iSteve Craiiieii
The talk of the green room
It looks as thOugh the Brunton Theatre Company has lost its admirable battle for Sun/ival. With the combined efforts at cultural vandalism of the East Lothian COunciI and the SAC Winning out over yet another top—rate Scottish company. It might be interesting to seek out which items of cultural wOrth the c0unCil. in partICuIar. seek to fund as an alternative for its ratepayers. Whispers Will enquire on your behalf.
Meanwhile. the Brunton company's swan song Will begin on Fri 22 Mar. with a new play. Lach/an's Choice Hote/. a gentle satire by Simon Little premiering at the theatre. to be followed by an extensive tOur arOund Scotland through0ut April. As u3ual the Brunton's artistic director David Mark Thomson will direct. Be Sure yOu witness the quality of the work that the Suits wrll be henceforth withholding from yOU.
The play tells the stOry of a bar in a Scottish prOVinCial hotel. which is threatened by closme when faced wrth multinational competition. The new manager attempts to inspire locats and staff alike in a campaign of reSistance. and during a Succession Scottish World cup matches. a conspiraCy is formed. Even the veice of the redOubtable footy commentator and ex Deacon Blue drummer DOugie Vipond is added to the chicanery. The piece promises a good deal of lively satire on the nature of Scottish identity. football. and the soft spot that everyone but the SAC and East Lothian COunCII have for the hardworking talented underdog. Its story. you suppose. must have created some pOignant parallels in rehearsal for Thomson and his company.
Footy, booze and the Scottish way of life