ADAPTATION MISERYGUTS Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, until Fri 19 Apr 0000
When I’ve got to write, I’m beholden to you, dear reader, to tell the truth as I see it, however subjective and imperfect, and the truth sometimes hurts. But the rest of the time, when I’m at the theatre for fun, without professional responsibility, and someone in the show asks me what I thought of it, I try to be upbeat and, like most folk, keep my counsel on my more negative thoughts. Am I a tactful person trying not to hurt perfectly decent folk or a tremendous hypocrite?
Liz Lochhead’s Alex Frew (Jimmy Chisolm) would call me the latter. Lochhead’s adaptation of Moliere’s The Misanthrope locates itself in the contemporary world of the Scottish media and spares it very little. Television cultural critic Frew opens the play with a swingeing rant that attacks a succession of recognisable Scottish arts figures, with Lochhead not even sparing herself from the list.
His producer friend Phil (Greg Powrie) warns him to curb his notorious capacity to make enemies, but Frew’s next act is to attack young poet Oscar (John Kielty) for an admittedly awful sonnet about cunnilingus. Oscar has an intimate connection with Frew’s one
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 30 Mar 0..
What's the hardest profession in the world? No. not the oldest. You're thinking of something else. The hardest profession. of course. is the arts. but who hasn't. at some time. fantasised about having fifteen minutes in the
The trials and tribulations of students from the New York School of Performing Ads are set to music and choreographed. Tyrone (Chris Copeland) can dance. but can't read. Mabel (Leigh-Anne Stone) wants to be a star. but won't watch her waistline. Carmen (Debbie Kurup) simply wants to live forever. Serena (Julie Atherton) is accepting the fact that the guy she fancies. Nick (Paul Spicer), is absolutely definitely gay. and Jose's (Ben
Heathcote) codpiece doesn't suit him.
The global success of Fame is hard to understand
weakness, his not-so-true love Celia (Cora Bissett) a tremendous slapper who is also stringing along a couple of MSPs, the oafish ex-footballer Clint (Barrie Hunter) and the tremendous yah Archie (Ronnie Simon). The shit hits the fan when prudish columnist Zoe (Janette Foggo) begins, in the name of a rather dubious version of feminism, to expose Celia’s many and varied bedroom epics.
Director Tony Cownie brings a wonderful rolling wit to Lochhead’s verse rendition of modern meeja Scots, rich with expletives and not without the odd stiletto, while a
precisely: the score is largely unmemorable. and serious issues are touched upon but never explored. But what it
lacks in depth and sincerity it makes up for in sheer energy from the young cast. While the individual performances are strong. it's as an all-singing. all-dancing ensemble that they are strongest. and there's something highly infectious about their enthusiasm for the roar of the greasepaint. the smell of the crowd. If performing is the hardest profession. being in an audience must surely be the easiest. (Gareth Davies)
Energy replaces sincerity
Hacktive sex lives: Jimmy Chisolm and Cora Bissett
meticulously observed revolving set by Geoff Rose sets it all off beautifully. Chisolm’s performance as the grim-pussed truth-telling zealot never releases his audience from the palm of his hand, while Bissett’s amoral media whore is another memorable rendition in a fast- growing CV of astutely detailed turns. Her catfight with Foggo’s self- important moralist is a standout. If the finale doesn’t give one as much sympathy with the central characters as perhaps was intended, this is still a thoroughly enjoyable night out, which glints and flashes with savage wit from end to end. (Steve Cramer)
Playhouse, Edinburgh, until Sat 30 Mar 0..
Fine hoofing and warbling
Those who saw the last production of Grease at this venue might have been put off. For that. Grease was the word. but not the word I‘d have used. Here. there‘s a good deal more verve and style.
The story of the 503 American high school ‘Summer Love’ between Danny (Matthew Cutts. standing in for an injured Craig Urbani) and Sandy (Haley Flaherty) is familiar en0ugh not to be repeated. A couple of minor variations on the movie OCCur. but not enough to mention. though a couple of extra songs add spice.
David Gilmore's production of Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey's musical is set before a pretty red neon trimmed. American icon festooned set by Terry Parsons. and rattles along nicely. Flaherty's love lorn professional virgin plays well with Cutts‘ nicely executed bad (but not really bad) boy. while Nina French as Italian American naughty lass. Rizzo. works a good part for all its w0rth.
Not all the voices are quite as strong as those of the leads. but the general hoofing and warbling is of good standard. Generally. a good night out. but you can't help but feel that the text's structure. which holds back its real drama until late on and resolves it too qwckly. makes it that rarest of things: a musical that works better as film than theatre. (Steve Cramer)
CLASSIC MYSTERY THE GHOST TRAIN
King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 30 Mar 0..
Watching Ian Dickens' production of The Ghost Train. you might be forgiven for assuming it to be a contemporary take on the classic locked room mystery. You wonder whether the original audiences to Arnold Ridley's play — first produced in 1925 and long before notions of camp had been invented - noticed The Ghost Trains comic potential. or were simply scared witless.
It's a familiar enough tale. Two married couples and a dithering Spinster become accidentally stranded at a Cornish station on one dark. dreich winter's night. Unfortunately for them. they happen to be sharing the waiting room with a hysterical flapper girl. a sinister doctor and Ian Lavender's foppish prize twit as well as the ghostly lantern-wielding victim of a renowned local train crash.
Tensions mount in this claustrophobic setting when the stationmaster is found dead. and the play reaches its creepy. Scooby Doo crescendo as the Witching hour approaches and the spectral locomotive comes rumbling through the station.
At times the first act‘s shocks and screams seem repetitive. Indeed. some may find themselves sharing Elton's sentiment that “This Train Don't Stop' (Anywhere). Overall. though. the cast of bright young things and familiar sitcom figures have fun namming it up in what is a fairly enjoyable. over-the-top romp. (Allan Radcliffe)
Over the top romp
28 Mar—ll Apr 2002 THE LIST 81