Around Scotland's theatres.
Irene MacDougall and Rodney Matthew in Dundee Rep’s Mince
combines a fascinating subject with one of Scotland’s finest actors. But perhaps most intriguing of all, John Clifford’s adaptation of a Pushkin short story, The Queen of Spades promises an intelligent analytical
As the festival creeps on apace, there’s no point in pretending that there’s an abundance of theatre out there. A lot of spaces are dark, and many of our best actors and directors are closeted in rehearsal spaces, going through their paces for their spots at the fringe and festival. All the same, you won’t need to look too far to find a show to your satisfaction.
If you’re willing to travel as far afield as Pitlochry, you’ll find an attractive theatre in as pleasant surroundings as you’ll find anywhere in Scotland. There you can see a variety of theatre from popular classics to work that‘s a wee bit further out. As you read this, productions of Agatha Christie’s whodunit The Hollow, the always delightful Arsenic and Old Lace and Alan Ayckbourn’s social comedy of various degrees of the middle classes Third Person Singular are all running. Peter Shaffer’s thought provoking speculation about the death of Mozart, Amadeus is also a proven crowd puller, while Jimmy Chisolm’s one-man show about the life and times of Charles Dickens, The Haunted Man
commentary on both Pushkin’s world and our own. Clifford’s work, be it his festival hit Life 58 a Dream, or such early pieces as Losing Venice always fascinates. This tale of a woman avoiding the realities of a revolution feels like the kind of territory in which he excels.
In addition to all the potential and diverse joys of a weekend in Pitlochry, you might want to recall that Dundee Rep continues to run its summer season, which contains many delights. And if you want to steal the march on the fringe trendies, as well as save yourself a few bob, you might also want to sneak in to the extensive run of previews at the Traverse, which will be running as you read this.
All that, and a touring Romeo and Juliet for young and wannabe young lovers, The Celtic Story for hoops fans, and The Quest of Derik, a devised family show about Germanic myth at Tramway for, er, teutonically inclined families. Now come back to me when you get through that lot. (Steve Cramer)
Meet a girl called Maria
Mt Hit LAN DRAMA IWASJEWICLASS
Byre Theatre, St Andrews, until Sat 27 July 0000
The house lights do not go down at the beginning of Terrence McNally's drama Master Class. Instead diva— extraordinaire Maria Callas enters and ackiiowledges the audience as students at the master class shes Just about to conduct at New Yorks Jlllllétl'tl School Of Music in 1972. She's here to teach us about life. love. technique and especially opera.
Callas. a remarkable woman who was responsible for popularising opera like no one else. had a life off stage that contained more heightened excess than any of the opera heroines she played so sensationally on stage. Callas was always blessed with a remarkable voice. but she shed three stones by sheer WI“ power in order to become an icon of the age. the Audrey Hepburn of the concert hall.
It calls for a tour de force from the lead actress and Isabella Jarrett provides it. caioling. flirting. and being intimate with her audience. She demonstrates to three awe struck
student singers how to construct a performance by research and using your life experience. and then the audience will listen.
It is an Interesting play. very much written by a Callas fan, and at times feels like caviar for the general public. It essentially explores what it is to create. The format of the lecture. at first revealing, finally prevents us from seeing the diva in all her complexity. We get glimpses of Callas. but we long for more.
There are moments of greatness in Ken Alexander's Scottish premiere. when a spotlight picks up Callas in the dark. and to the accoiiipanimeiit of her famous recording as Lady Macbeth. the singer deconstructs her technique for us. and explains its eff 2ct on the audience. We suddenly become aware how her ill-fated but all-consuming love affair With shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis affects her performance. Here the play really takes off. and so too does the pioduction. Go along. Be :iiesiiierised. Buy the records. Well done St Andrews for presenting such bold choice of material. (John Binnie)
Re: treading the boards
delighted for David Mark Thomson. who has been appouited artistic director of the Royal Lyceum Theatre. replacing Kenny Ireland. whose tenure will finish at the end of the coming season. Thomson fought a heroic fight to preserve his preVious theatre. the Bruntori, whose funders mthdrew their support despite enthusiastic responses from both audiences and critics to his work there. It's good to see that Thomson's genuine dedication to Scottish theatre has been rewarded at a time where so many Scottish theatre artists have been turned into economic migrants to England.
Thomson‘s creative and intelligent directing is aduiiibrated by his skills as a writer. with such plays as A M.’idma/i 8/1798 to the Moon and Mei/mg Ob/ects garnering high praise and awards in two Tdinburgh fringes. His experience with a repertory company and his preVIous work at the Theatre Royal. Stratford East and the RSC seems to auger well for the Lyceum's future creatiVity and prosperity. We wish him and the company the best of luck with its new endeaVOurs.
HEARTENING NEWS, too for the Traverse, which interrupted its Fringe preparations to announce that Henry Adam’s Among Unbroken Hearts and Gregory Burke’s Gagarin Way, both Traverse premiers, have tied as winners of the Meyer-Whitworth award for new writing in the theatre. Adam is currently working on a new commission for the Traverse after his intensely moving debut play. Whispers anticipates this with delight, and wonders as well whether Burke’s political satire, which is due to tour here next season, will be followed by more Scottish work.
Congratulati ns to David Mark Thompson