SCOTTISH DRAMA SUNSET SONG Dundee Rep, until Sat 14 Sep, then touring. O...
The impact of World War I upon the inhabitants of a small northern Scottish farmstead, and by implication upon Scotland as a whole, is explored by Benjamin Twist’s staging of Lewis Grassic Gibbon's classic novel of love, life and loss. After losing both her mother and father, farming- stock lass Chris Guthrie (Cora Bissett) takes her destiny into her own hands, or so she thinks, marrying local farmer Ewan
Paisley Arts Centre, Sat 7 Sep, then touring
It is astonishing that Patrick Marber's 1997 West End hit. which subsequently toured the world with distinction, has never been produced in Scotland. Theatre Fusion is to be admired for its vision in bringing a legendary piece to the Scottish stage.
The play centres on the relationship dilemmas of four characters. two male, two female. over a period of four years. Relationships form. are broken and reformed several times over. the action frequently compared to an elaborate dance.
Marber's take on relationships is brutally frank. and his choice of title. taken from .Joy Division's second album. might give you an idea of the emotional frailties he examines. Do we formulate sexual relationships as a means to gain intimacy with other
A legendary piece
people or as a means to forestall it? Marber asks hard questions about contemporary relationships. And his open—ended argument is frank and confessional about male and female sexuality. Betrayal and deceit explain the characters“ lack of trust and inability to follow their emotions. Not a first-date play. then. (Steve Crameri
Tavendale (Douglas Russell). Only then does she
An impressive performance
realise some things remain outwith her control, changing and evolving, for better or worse, regardless of her will. ‘Nothing lasts - not a thing,’ one character says, a sentiment that later broadens into ‘Nothing endures, only the land.’ Whatever else may change, the land, both the farm’s acres and the
nation itself, goes on.
Act one deals primarily with the Guthrie family history, detailing the father’s tyrannical hand, and the family’s reluctant subservience, with real emotional depth and finely restrained performances from both Paul Morrow as the violent and oppressive husband, and Estrid Barton as his wife, driven to kill both herself and their twin babies. But Act two bears the real heart of the story, with the outbreak of war in Europe spelling the end for an already decaying way of life for the community, and beginning a new era for the nation as a whole.
Cora Bissett’s performance throughout is this production’s greatest strength. Soulful, confident and mature, Bissett hits every emotive highpoint with
Making war the main theme earlier in the play would give greater opportunity for it to be explored fully; instead a significant episode of Scotland’s history feels shoehorned slightly uncomfortably into the last two-thirds of the plot. Still, we’re left in no doubt here: this is very much a play for today, about the ever-changing landscape of Scotland here, Scotland now. (Gareth Davies)
WITHOUT A TRACE
Tron, Glasgow, Tue 17-Sat 21 Sep, then touring
Sounds of Progress
Despite developments in modern soence. human creativity remains a mystery that. acc0rding to New York playwright Carol K Mack. ‘cannot be dissected or reduced to a formula‘. Mack takes up the tascrnating true stOry of Maria Paradies. the celebrated blind piano virtuoso for whom Mozart wrote his 18th piano concerto. in her poetic drama Without A Trace. an exploration of how the imagination wrll not be quantified. Treated in Vienna by the maverick Frank Mesmer. Paradies was temporarily cured of her blindness but in regaining her sight. she lost her
ability to play the piano. When her blindness returned. so did her artistry.
Dealing with ideas of perception and examining the connection between disability and identity. this highly visual play will be performed by mUSlC theatre ensemble Sounds of Progress. an integrated company of disabled and able-bodied artists most recently celebrated for its work with director Gerry Mulgrew. Partially sighted actress Karina Jones will bring a unique insight to the role of Maria while Dee lsaacs has contributed a stunning contemporary classical score to a show that revels in the realm of the senses.
For acclaimed actor/director Gerda Stevenson. the production has been a long but fulfilling lab0ur of love. ‘I was trying to find a repert0ire of plays I‘d like to direct when this play came among a package and l was just knocked out by it.' she says. 'The moment I got it from a literary agent years ago. I felt I must direct this play.’
Immediate contact was then made wrth the playwright. a rehearsed reading performed at the Traverse in 1999 and three years later. after numerOus applications for funding to the Arts COunCil, Without A Trace is finally set to make its European premiere at the Tron. (Catherine Bromley)
YOUR TURN TO CLEAN THE STAIR
Brunton Theatre, Fri 13 Sep, then tounng
Hot on the heels of the recent Fringe success of Rona Munro's Iron. Rapture Theatre Company is hitting the road with a revival of a play from the early 90s. stemming from Munro's own experiences of sharing her life with the occopants of an Edinburgh tenement. Using the tenement as a launching pad to explore the lives of the peOple who live wrthin it. Munro's play presents a world where people pass on the stairs and cheerily greet figures wrth whom they have no other human contact. On one level it's an entertaining thriller. on another an exploration of the relationships modern people conduct in a world they won't share wrth others.
‘lt's a world of isolation. where even though they live in such close proxrmity they never find the time to actually stop and associate wrth each other.‘ says director Michael Emans. 'They think they're loner but it's because they don't communicate with each other. Life w0uld be so much better for them if they w0uld only speak to each other.‘
Promising to fulfil both those who want an entertaining night out. and those who want something deeper, Munro's play holds a mirror up to the world. You'd better like what yOu see. (Gareth Davies)
A tidy little numr
SCOTTISH BALLET - NATIONAL TOUR
Brunton Theatre, Thu 5 Sep, then tounng
It was Marie Rambert's 80th birthday. and Sir Frederick Ashton wanted to give her something special. So. armed with a stack of photographs and some personal memories. the choreographer Created a work inspired by another great dance visionary, Isadora Duncan. Ex-Royal Ballet star Lynn Seymour immersed herself in the role. and Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan was born.
Twenty-six years later, Seymour is in Glasgow. teaching Scottish Ballet how to embody Duncan's free Spirit. ‘I didn't ask them to do it the way I did. I just gave them the information l-ied gave me.‘ says Seymour. ‘And they've been absolutely fantastic — they've completer given themselves over to it. both intellectually and physrcally.’
One of five pieces in Scottish Ballet's National Tour programme. Five ll/a/t/es is in esteemed company. Robert North's Danse Apache from Offenbach in the Underworld and eternal crowd-pleaser Troy Game provide the laughs. as does Ashton's wrtty pas-de-deux from The Two Pigeons. Romance comes courtesy of August BOLJrnonville's Flower Festival in Gen/ant). while Robert Cohan's contemporary work, Tzaikerk, makes its Scottish Ballet debut. (Kelly Apteri
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