Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, Fri 5—Sat 6 Jul, then touring CO.

By the half way point of Gerry Mulgrew’s production of Chekhov’s classic, already produced this season by the Citizens’, I began to feel a little like the anti-Elvis. Far from his current World Cup commercial-inspired number one, I began to wish for a little more conversation, a little less action.

Mulgrew’s direction for Benchtours adds a succession of striking visual set pieces to the text, with cleverly realised train journey sequences, the inspired use of mirrors and revolving doors and a peculiar, whimsical opening to the second part which forms the entire cast into an eccentric orchestra. Though these are, of themselves, delightful to behold, I wonder whether they don’t detract from the final emotional impact of the text.

The story is of Madame Ranyevskaya’s (Catherine Gillard) return to Russia from Paris, where

she and her sententious, slightly useless brother Gayev (Peter Clerke) attempt to rescue their provincial estate from impoverishment. A former peasant, Lopakhin (Stewart Ennis), now a wealthy businessman, advises them on asset management, but to no avail. Meanwhile, Ranyevskaya’s daughter Anya (Susan Coyle) pines away for another life, while her adopted daughter Varya (Deborah Arnott) longs for Lopakhin. The various eccentrics, servants and friends around the estate all seek something and gain nothing from a rapidly

changing world.

Mulgrew’s production is engaging and comical through most of its length, but somehow the beating heart at the centre of Chekhov’s text, its human tragedy, is muted, perhaps by the many visual distractions presented, so the piece’s two comic and



Botanic Gardens, Glasgow, Kabuki Titus Fri 5-Sun 7 & Fri 12—Sun14 Jul, The Tempest until Sun 14 Jul (not Mon)

So. you're the most commercially successful dramatic writer of your period. much resented by your peers for yOur Success. but suddenly. financial avenues normally abundantly available are closed off and the rent needs paid. This was the dilemma of

Shakespeare. whose bankability in the Elizabethan period was comparable to

Stephen Spielberg's when plague closed the theatres of London. After a long period of closure. there's a brief Window of opportunity. which might not last long. what w0uld you do? Well, my theory is that y0u produce the most sensationally violent and melodramatic piece you‘ve ever written to pull in the crowds and get that rent bill down. This is perhaps why many early scholars tried to distance Shakespeare from Titus Androrrrcus; they c0uldn't see that its contents could possibly have been produced by the cash-strapped bard. The play includes such events as a woman raped. who then has her

Yasha gets a cheroot from Dunyasha

tragic faces never merge into one.

All the same, there are many engaging moments. Laura Hopkins, design creates a marvellous hall of mirrors effect, and is well used by the cast. Of this large ensemble, the supports steal the show. There’s a grand performance from Tim Licata as the ambitious young servant Yasha (he also doubles as the endlessly cash- strapped landowner Simeonov), whose short term romance with Dunyasha (Claire Lamont) is doomed by his desire to move onward and upward. Lamont also

provides an engaging, physically skilled performance,


tongue and hands severed so she can't identify her assailants. It's enough to make you eat your y0ung. and another woman is duped into dOIng just that. An old man also goes very unpleasantly mad. and there's Sundry other Violent events to keep you going.

Now combine this With Japanese theatrical techniques of Kabuki. which beneath its stylisation is also deeply sensational (such things as gangsters and love suicides often form the basis of plot) and you've got an evening of

as does Susan Coyle whose contrasting doubling of Anya and Madam Charlotta, the smouldering, bohemian foreign governess shows admirable dexterity. It’s not a perfect night, but this production provides some enjoyable summer distraction. (Steve Cramer)

Titus Andronicus: geisha pulse racing

fast-paced and relentlessly violent tragedy. That is. if you don't play Titus as grotesque black comedy. which I‘ve always thought yOu COuId. Whatever. yOu'Il find it in the gorgeOus open air of Glasgow's Botanic Gardens. Now. if this late night fare is rich meat for you. then you might try the more conventional The Tempest. which will no doubt use the pastoral spaces of the Botanics to recreate the rich bucolic splendours of Prospero's island. Enjoy the weather. If you get it. (Steve Cramer)

Stage Whispers

Re: Treading The Boards

GRAVF UNDERTAKINGS AT the Arches. where Pauline GOIdSmIth's Bright Co/ow‘s Only. a little pearl of a production already seen at that venue. Wlli be making a trip to the Edinburgh Festival fringe. where one suspects good things await it. But there's a catch. Goldsmiths excellent show. which reflects both comically and pOignantly on the customs of death in her native Ireland. is short of an absolutely necessary hearse. as well as pallbearers for a coffin in the show. Do yOu know anyone who could make available a hearse during the middle of the day for three weeks in August? An implausible (lLlOSllOll. I'll grant you. but if you have an answer. or Just want to carry Paulrne's coffin. call the Arches on 0141 56:3 1015. The Festival. too is looking for volunteer actors to play extras in two shows. The Ro Theatre of l-totterdam's Whicheth and the Canadian Opera Company” Oedipus

Rex l"./rth Symphony Of Psalms both require some folks to make up the large numbers required. Interested? Call the Festival on ()1: l 473 20i'ti.

Pauline needs pallbearers: Bright Colours Only

IN GLASGOW, THE USUAL summer festivities for footy- starved Celtic fans is available at the Pavilion, where the latest update on The Celtic Story should create nostalgia out Parkhead way. Perhaps one version of this history will one day explain the purchase of an entire championship- winning Hibs team at the turn of the last century in order to win the championship the next. As a Hibs fan, Whispers would like to hear about this. Still, the Old Firm has always bought success, while proper Scottish football fans can enjoy it honestly when we have it. I thought they were going to leave the league, by the way? The latest Old Firm climb-down can be witnessed until Sat 10 August.

'5‘ .l.. THE LIST 71