King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 1—Sat 5 Oct

All the same, Bennett’s work is unquestionably engaging and intelligent. Single Spies, which was our soup and we drank it,’ she tells originally staged in the mid-90s to some acclaim, demonstrates Bennett’s recurrent fascination with The latter piece focuses on Sir the world of the British real-life spy. Anthony Blunt, the queen’s chief

But all of us are surely intrigued by the four men who spied for the old Soviet Union from the days of their Oxbridge recruitments in the 1930s. The question raised by Burgess, Philby, MacLean and, much later, after his exposure in the early 805, Sir Anthony Blunt, is why Liza Goddard, stars as Coral Brown did such pillars of the British establishment, the product of the upper echelons of the British class Powell, whose extensive film career system, turn to treason. Ideology? Money? Sexuality? All were bound up in their stories.

Bennett’s examination of the subject began in the 70s with The Old Country. Single Spies, in fact a the difference between treason and

Guy Burgess, many years after his escape from Britain. ‘You pissed in

him, and Burgess goes into a lengthy explanation of his activities.

advisor on her art collection. The play depicts a succession of meetings between the monarch and advisor, as much a psychological comedy/drama as a play about spies.

An old favourite at the King’s,

and her majesty Brenda respectively, opposite Robert

will no doubt pull a few extra punters to the venue. After the cold war, it might seem surprising that we still retain our fascination for these figures, but the question of

Blunt exchanges stage version of his television plays principal goes back to long before

An Englishman Abroad and A Question of Attribution, continues his ongoing study. The first piece is present day. These are not James a fictionalised account of a meeting Bond plays, and the reality behind in Moscow between the noted Australian actor Coral Brown and

Alan Bennett divides audiences. He’s easily parodied and has been tarred with the brush of middle class, middlebrow drama: an area of work that irks the cognoscenti.

CLASSIC THE GOOD WOMAN OF SETZUAN Citizens‘ Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat Sep 21 0...

Whenever I'm at a party full of strangers I try to shift identities. When someone asks me what I do for a living. I tell them I'm a fireman. This is because it's the only profession I can think of that nobody has a beef Wlttl. A Journalist? Y as. I've been told on many occasions “.vhat people think of us. but whatever you do. unless you're one of the firefighters; about to be forced into strike action by your appalling pay level. you're bound to do something that folk regard as harmful or negative.

This. I suppose. is the point about Brecht‘s classic parable about capitalism. No matter what you do. it's impossible to be anything but harmful to others if you're part of a capitalist economy. Shen Te iMolly Innes) finds this when the gods come to vrsit Set/tian. The young prostitute is the only person .villing to assist them, and as re\.'\/ard. they give her money. But with the best of intentions. Shen Te can still do nothing but harm. Even the great love of her life. the teckless and charming Yang Sun (Paul Blairi is destroyed by her attempts at generosity. and she is forced to adopt the identity of a much crueller cousin to SUP/I‘ll} III the nest Of vipers created by capital.

James Brining's production for TAG demonstrates the merit of a straiglitiorward approach. He stays close to the basic premise of Brecht's 1942 text to create the kind of detachment neede'l in an audience. Helped by a clever set by Karen Tennent. tne performers excel in creating a world full of the dilemmas of poverty Innes is outstanding as Sheri Te. while Blair's peitormance sparks off her nicely. Callum Cuthbertson is also strong. III a generally good cast as the water seller Vl'l'd'lg. logether this ensemble demonstrates that there are political and economic roots to our most complex ethical questions. a fact that we'd rather not address. A thought provoking and very relevant production. (Steve Crameri

Newspaper theatre

Guy Fawkes, and will remain a source of interest long after the

the fantasy of espionage is surely still a fresh subject. (Steve Cramer)



Arches, Glasgow, Fri 20 & Sat 21 Sep, then touring, COO

Talk of country matters

No matter what city you're from, there are jokes about the folk from the remoter regions of the country. In Sydney. we reckon that the only Tasmanian Virgins are girls who can run faster than their brothers. and I've heard similar things muttered about Highlanders and island dwellers in the bars and cafes of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Strange then. that a play from the Highlands should seem to go halfway to confirming this prejudice.

In this piece. young John James (Dan Oliveira) returns to the Sutherland fishing town of his birth. to find his old school chum Billy (PJ Farrell) about to sell up his lobster boat and abandon himself to uncertainty and ongoing poverty. Trouble (Martin Docherty). a Weegie emigrant of long standing. menaces both, while John James seeks out Billy's sister Morag (Jodie Campbell) a childhood sweetheart who he wishes to run off to America With. to pursue his career as a physicist. Morag and Billy's mother arrives to tell tales of long forgotten scandal and quasi- incestuous relationships. and all are trapped in an emotional mire of love. loss. space and time travel.

There are some nice moments in Tom Magill's production of Ian McDonough's drama of entrapment and escape. but the piece needs shortening to avoid repetition. So. too the quality of the performances is a little uneven, though Campbell's fierce young giil is strong. An agreeable enough evening, which slightly outstays its welcome.

(Steve Cramer)


JACOBL-AN CLASSIC THE DUCHESS OF MALFI Ramshorn Graveyard, Glasgow, Fri 20-Sun 22 Sep.

For some audiences. traditional theatre venues can lead to a debilitating disease which manifests itself in large groups of people sitting in the dark. facing the same direction. not enjoying themselves. One cure for such an ailment can be to relocate a play's performance to a place as far away from the theatres as possible. and there can be few more appropriate venues to stage John Webster's brooding and Violent tragedy than a graveyard. And. as part of this year's Merchant City Festival. Glasgow Rep is doing Just that. The eponymous Duchess is caught in a love-triangle With her husband Antonio. and her tWin brother Ferdinand. and is eventually driven into madness. A contemporaw of Shakespeare. \/\./ebster's work is noted for its dark and deatth content. He is one of the most performed Jacobean playwrights. ‘but people know of Ma/fi without actually knowing it.' says director Gordon Barr. ‘We hope to introduce them to the play by capitalising upon the natural atmosphere of a graveyard. The setting really enhances the ghoulish aspects and heavy atmosphere of the text. but WItllOllt overwhelmiilg. or dominating the play.’ Dare it be said. a production fit for a duchess’? (Gareth Daviesi

Grave issues

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