WHODUNNIT DEATHTRAP King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 2-Sat 6 Apr
Soul to solve
There‘s a very human touch to David Soul. The former Starsky And Hutch star
isn't at all as you'd expect. His is an opinionated and very well informed view of British theatre. as well as politics and culture. He campaigned for former BBC correspondent Martin Bell's independent candidacy at the last election, and visits men's groups to discuss anger management and analysis after his own well- publicised loss of control with his then spouse 22 years ago.
‘l've been living in Britain for six years now. and British theatre is something I always wanted to do. because it is so integrated into the community.‘ he says. ‘In any place in Britain. there's a sense of local identity which centres on the pub, the church, the football team and the theatre. The theatre is getting neglected. but it's so imponant to do things locally. It's like when I worked with Martin Bell. We started with one phone in one room. but we knocked on every door in the constituency and made contact with people. The sitting MP. Neil Hamilton. had hardly appeared in public. despite being MP for eighteen years.’
His vision of theatre is as coherent and passionate as his commitment to a myriad of other causes. ‘The last thing that was invented in the theatre was electricity,‘ he says. “We need to reinvigorate. to change. Young people are going to the internet or the local multiplex for their entertainment. To stop this we need to move into the digital age. talk about light and sound and projection. Rock and roll did this, and it didn't have narrative. The theatre does, and we should use all
aspects of theatre to continue.‘
He's here to perform the Ira Levin thriller Deathtrap. on the face of it. not the kind of play to set avant garde thinkers into a tizzy. But even here. Soul promises an experimental approach, with the use of film and video sequences to advance the story. in a tale about the murderous plotting and counter-plotting of a novelist
keen to despatch a rival. (Steve Cramer)
PERFECT DAYS Cumbernauld Theatre, Fri 5-Sat 6 Apr, then touring
Amazing fact. The last time Una McLean trod the boards at Glasgow's Citizens' Theatre was 1962. For one who's had such a busy professional life, it’s remarkable that she's taken this long to get back. But back she'll be for two weeks in April in Borderline's touring revival of Liz Lochhead's brilliant biological clock comedy.
McLean has had her eye on the part of Sadie since even before the play's triumphal debut at the Traverse Theatre in 1998. First time round. though. it went to Ann Scott Jones who. ironically enough, has turned director for this version. Not that McLean holds any grudges. She's just delighted to be getting her teeth into such a cracking part, playing the mother of celebrity hairdresser Barbs Marshall (Elaine Collins in the role first claimed by Siobhan Redmond).
Being skilled in both farce (she and
Una McLean back the Citz
Ann Scott Jones are friends from their days working With Jimmy Logan) and serious theatre (most recently in The Beauty Queen of Leenane). McLean sounds like perfect casting for a role that combines the best of both. ‘l'm still going to be real.‘ she says. ‘l‘m not going to just do it for laughs. but it's nice because there are a lot of laughs. There‘s truth there as well as the laughs.‘ (Mark Fisher)
Tron Theatre, Glasgow. Tue 9—Sat 13 Apr
The Shepard is their Lord
Ah. crime simply does not pay. or does it? The fall out from one specific crime is the backdrop to Rapture's production of Sam Shepard‘s
Si'mpati‘co. In a seedy American motel room. two men meet and discuss their previous illegal shenanigans in the cut- throat world of horseracing. In the years since the incident their lives have travelled in opposite directions. with one hitting the big time and the other slipping on skid row. But their chequered pasts return to haunt them both in a world where the American Dream is shaken up and blasted apart.
‘American horseracing is a world where everybody is trying to shaft everybody else.’ says artistic director Michael Emans. ‘The play’s about deception. bluff and double bluff. But underlying it all is an exploration of male relationships.‘
This is familiar stuff for Shepard fans and should provide an interesting night at the theatre. As long as audiences don't pay too much attention to the 1999 film version. ‘It was made into a
not-terribly-good movie with Nick Nolte
and Jeff Bridges.‘ says Emans. ‘But it is a very good play and a very good piece of writing.‘ (Davie Archibald)
NEW PLAY FARM LAND Touring COO
The plight of industrial workers facing the dole is often the meat of contemporary drama. less so the plight of rural labourers. So let's welcome Bess Ross' playwriting debut which brings to the stage. not the position facing well organised and highly vocal big farmers. but the isolated. disorganised agricultural workers dispersed throughout the Highlands and Islands.
Farm Land focuses on the familial troubles of Davie (Jim Byars) his Wife. Jean (Connie Fullenon) and their kids (Heien McAlpine and Dan Oliviera). Facing the effects of redundancy. the family struggles to maintain its cohesiveness in the small community of Easter Ross.
Ross' writing weaves skilfully and effOrtIessly back and forward through time. from the family's high hopes in the 70s to the darker times of the 80s and 90s. Unfonunately the clear strength of the play's form is marred by a distinct lack of dramatic development. Still. effective lighting and music. combined with the pace of director Mariela Stevenson's production. keeps things moving along nicely through the two-hour run.
Alan Tall turns in a powerful performance as family friend. Chae. although the rest of the cast is uneven with some of the acting killing off dialogue ratner than bringing the play to life. Nevertheless. a promising debut from Ross. (Davie AFCDIbaldj
One tractor minds
REVIVAL JUDITH Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 9-Sat 20 Apr
Howard Barker is one of the major writers of modern theatre. Productions of his plays are performed regularly thrOughout mainland Europe and yet many people in Britain are still pretty unfamiliar with his work. True. his work is not always easy. but that's the way he wants it. Barker coined the term ‘theatre of catastrophe' to describe a style of theatre that ditches realism and denies simple interpretation. forcing audiences to engage intellectually with what confronts them.
So don't expect any easy answers from Theatre In Action's latest production of Barker's Judith. The play re-tells the Old Testament story of Judith. the widow of Manases. As the Assyrian army lay siege to the city of Jerusalem. she is selected to enter the tent of the army commander. General Holofernes. to seduce and kill him. Throughout the years the scene has been captured by a number of artists
including Caravaggio so it’s not giving the game away to reveal that the company
has the theatrical challenge of trying to cut somebody's head off every night.
As ever with Barker. expect a powerful and thought-provoking anaIySis of power relations. sexuality and human desire. 'Barker describes himself as a sooalist playwright, but he seems to be talking about more than just politics.‘ says artistic director David O'Neil. ‘What he is also doing is looking at issues of role and performance in society; for instance Judith‘s role as both Widow and courtesan and. of course, heroine. Barker is exploring the way that the roles that are put on people. in turn become a mechanism for oppression. Although part of the problem in doing Barker is that he never answers any of the questions that he
' asks' (Davie Archibald)
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