A STRANGE MAN one. Traverse Theatre, Garage Theatre, Edinburgh, run ended

Edinburgh should consider itself fortunate to play host to some of the talent on display at this annual event and my own selection was but a sampler for the acts on display.

Scotland's own David Greig presents Dr Korczac’s Example. in which the eponymous child psychologist runs an orphanage in the Warsaw ghetto of occupied Poland. Here. two adolescents form a delicate romantic friendship. and Dr Korczak struggles in vain to keep his uniquely democratic orphanage safe from the genocidal fascist forces outside. Greig's play is moving and amusing by turns. but longer than needed. In fairness. the length may only seem excessive because of the supremely uncomfortable seating fitted to Traverse two for the occasion. Indeed. I started to suspect that the feared Gestapo of the play had also fitted the narrow vinyl covered wooden benches for adults. After an hour. I was ready to talk.

From Switzerland comes Peter Rinderknecht's Portofino Ballad. a quirky. eccentric and terribly engaging tale. in which we meet the old man who acts as the cuckoo in a clock fitted to a double bass. Just go with it. The old man has a troubled relationship with his son and heir. who isn't interested in following the old man into clockworkmanship. Their resolution is pleasing to both ear and eye.

Denmark's Teater Patrasket presented A Strange Man. a little morality tale. illustrated by music. by writer Mats Letens. In it. a pleasing sense of incantation is set up by three performers in telling the tale of a pink fon/vard-walking man who comes to live in a town full of green backwards-walking folk. The allegorical representation of racism and its effects is always light-hearted and enjoyable.

It's heartening. overall. to think that two of these three pieces address the issue of racism and fascism in a Western world where this sort of political sophistry is again on the rise. Artistic director Tony Reekie should be congratulated for setting an example of social consciousness that the adult theatre would do well to follow. He needs to look at those seating arrangements. though. (Steve Cramer)



Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 13-Sat 15 Jun, then touring

When was the last time you used your imagination? Coming up with last week's Lottery numbers? Finding a convincing lie to disguise a petty misdemeanour? Or was it. perchance. at the theatre? The co-director of Vanishing Point's latest production. Matthew Lenton. suggests people don't use their imaginations enough these days.

‘Children have the best imaginations.

the greatest capacity for imagination.’ he says. ‘But it's a faculty that fades with time. We try to appeal to the forgotten imaginations in adults. Too often. people take words for granted. In theatre. words can simply get in the way.’

Told almost entirely without words or text. through music and visual media. the story concerns a husband and wife who make violins. The husband leaves to seek a better life in the big

No strings attached

city, and a case of mistaken identity leads to an escaped convict filling the role he leaves behind. “We draw on known stories of impostors. and challenge the notion that being an impostor is always a bad thing.’ says Lenton. 'It can be good for someone to assume another person's role. if it can benefit society. or help them escape from an oppressive way of life.’

Funny. physical and thoughtful. Vanishing Point's instruction to their audiences is deceptively simple: just imagine. (Gareth Davies)


The appeal of Chekhov lies in his capacity to evoke the feeling of a suspended life. He connects with our sense of life's uncertainty. Our memories of the past are resolved. complete. but in the present. where Our dilemmas are seldom clear cut. we always feel that the next step is pending and forever out of reach. Graham McLaren's production of Uncle Vanya. in front of his simple. austere design. captures this inability to move on nicely.

In the title role. Brian Pettifer finds himself reduced to malcontented sniping at his pompous brother in law (Peter D'80uza). a professor whose academic career Vanya has slaved to support with little acknowledgement. To make matters worse. both his mother (Nan Kerr) and the professor's second wife Helena (Clara Onyemere) dote on the petulant old git. Both

Vanya up, you’re up

the performances. particularly early on. betray a slight unease with the material. All the same. this production warms up nicely as it progresses. playing comedy over tragedy at its

PERFORMANCE ART JOYCE CCA, Glasgow, Wed 12—Thu 13 Jun.

There‘s a certain preconception about ‘performance art' that sends shivers down Spines and scowls onto faces. Like opera and ballet. it's an art form some people assume they won't understand or appreciate.

This show is a semi-autobiographical exploration of the women who figured prominently in the upbringing of the production's creator. Ron Athey. 'lt centres on a rather bleak family scenario.’ he says. ‘Joyce is a schizophrenic. disassociated woman. Actually. three women: my mother. my aunt and my


Through a combination of live action and projected video images. the show retells these women's stories. and the effect each had upon Athey himself.

It's Athey's first production to be seen in Britain for eight years. and though the ‘performance art' label might risk putting some peOpIe off seeing the show. Athey describes it as not being so far removed from a conventional view of theatre: 'It isn't strictly narrative. but more of a cross-media stage production. Each character has a designated video screen. onto which films are projected. They interact with these screens. blending live action with recorded images.‘

Broaden your understanding of the nefarious forms that theatre can take. and don't bother asking: ‘But is it art?’ It is. (Gareth Davies)

REHEARSED READINGS REHEARSAL ROOM 6 Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 14 & Sat 15 June

‘lt's like planting a garden.’ says Judith Adams. a writer whose involvement in Stellar Quines' 2003 site-specific project Sweet Fanny Adams In Eden. isn't of the conventional nature. Indeed. the first night of the rehearsed ‘readings' might come as a blooming surprise if you're expecting the company's usual text-based work. Eventually to be performed in garden spaces. the first rehearsal will be an experiment in story development through technology. improvisation.


Muriel Romanes will direct

readings and audience interaction, with the intention of creating theatre shaped by its environment. rather than its typewriter. ‘Tnere are no pages of text yet'. says Adams. 'They are. if you like. in planting sections'.

Vanya and his friend Astrov (John Kazek) pine for the beautiful Helena. and Vanya‘s plain Jane niece (Isabelle Joss) wastes away in unrequited love. It's Chekhov. so I won't surprise you by saying that anyone finishes up with the person they want.

Tom Leonard's new version is durable and worthy. but doesn't rise to great theatrical heights. and some of

best. Kazek and Onyemere play a comic scene of sizzling sexual repression late on when they examine his collection of maps of the county. and these two are generally very strong. At times this production is neither comic nor tragic enough to fully realise its goals. but some strong moments make it worth a watch. (Steve Cramer)

The magical setting of a garden offers endless possibilities for the imagination. appealing to kids as well as adults. But. in true Stellar Quines fashion. there is another angle. ‘This is a woman's point of view on what women have bought to gardening. questionably or arguably from the Garden of Eden.‘ she says.

On the second night the company returns to its traditional form with readings of two text-driven plays. Salt. a contemporary piece by acclaimed Australian writer Peta Murray. explores a mother/daughter relationship. while 18th century tragedyDe/l/Ionfort by forgotten Scottish writer Joanna Baillie celebrates the author's determination to write in a time when women seldom saw pens in their hands. let alone garden hoses. (Mererid Williams)

6—20 Jun 2002 THE LIST 59