Paisley Arts Centre, until Sat 5 Oct, then touring
How well I remember a former tutor of mine announcing, straight-faced, to a class of stunned students, that Ibsen had ‘some rather nice women’s parts’. We never looked at his Hedda Gabler in quite the same way again. But even with the growing number of female playwrights coming to prominence in the second half of the last century, it has long drawn comment in dramatic circles that, until relatively recently, actresses have had rather a raw role deal. Which is why I thought fondly of my old teacher when 7:84 director Guy Hollands remarked favourably on playwright Frank McGuinness’ female roles.
With a ratio of 5:2, women are the dominant figures in this McGuinness play, set in a Donegal clothing factory in the late 705. The only males in sight are a union rep and a young management graduate. ‘lt’s a slice-of-life insight to the existences of these women,’ Holland says. ‘We’re simply eavesdropping into the lives of these characters, living against a backdrop of potential
SOCIAL DRAMA HANNAH 8: HANNAH
Tron, until 28 Sep; then Cumbernauld Theatre 29 Oct
The problem for any soCiety' in dealing \‘Jllll people classified as aliens is their very alienness. The asylum seeker is seen as inherently 'other'. and can therefore be persecuted and (.lehumanised Willi eguanimity by the indigenous population. This is yarhy John Retallack's play. “.‘JlllCll garnered itself a Fringe First in 2001 is so effectiye in making its benign message so clear. Here. the parallels bety'reei‘. two teenage girls are inyestigated. and each. one a Kosoyan refugee and one a local girl from the temi.)oraiy asylum of Margate. are richly humanised.
In Retallack's O“.‘.'n production. the English Hannah vJenny Platti at first persecutes her namesake lErin Brodiei. then. through their common links wrth some pretty banal pop
redundancy and the era’s many other social stresses, and seeing the world through their eyes.’
Hollands acknowledges that for McGuinness to produce a play featuring a predominantly female cast may draw comment from some quarters, but pre-empts the question of whether this work by a male playwright casts shadows of a feminist nature. ‘Women often figure prominently in McGuinness’ work, and certainly for some of the characters in this play they’re standing up for themselves - both in the workplace and against an authority figure - for the first time,’
Big girls’ house
he says. ‘But though they’re very much the focus of this text, it’s really a people play.’
Holland points out that theatre box offices also yield an interesting male/female demographic: ‘Recent research has indicated that women make up the greater part of theatre audiences. At least, women buy more tickets than men. And I think, with this show, they will really recognise and engage with the characters, and will really enjoy seeing it.’
And their husbands can sit and admire the women’s parts, I suppose. (Gareth Davies)
A SKULL IN CONNEMARA
music. a kinship develops. Their blossoming friendship creates trouble for both. as yiolence and acrimony spill into
the streets of the seaside toy-«n. But there is an abiding strength in the fraternity of these two young girls.
There's an elegant simplicity to this i_)roduction. You can see exactly how your levers are being pulled. but can't resist the sz'reetness of the tale. These two young actors. through moyement. singing and humour do what Billie Holiday does in a different way. y‘rringing from the guotidian lyrics of popsongs a special. l.)r(}\.’lOUSly unseen emotional poy'rer. A rendition of Natalie lmbruglia's ‘Torn' at two emotiOnal key points y'rOuid bring a tear to the eye of the most disapproving. John Cage loving. purist. Simply
charming. iSteyre Crameri
Mill Theatre, Thurso, then touring. O...
Can you dig it?
The programme note for Alasdair McCrone's production of Ms third part of Martin McDonagh's Leenane trilogy talks about the :nheritance of Synge in the “.'«.'rll(,’l'.f3 ‘.'.'ork. But to anyone y'rho's recently seen Pit'ii.'.")oyr of the ‘. '/ Ester/i ‘.'/or/o‘ at the Lyceum. the parallel is redundant. so striking .s the iinag 3 of the bloodied. apparently dead i'uffran rising repeateoly from blox'.’ This is all part of an appropriately grisLy denoueinent in the milieu of McDonagh's obscure Irish yillage of Leenane ‘.'.’llll its sudden \.’l()l(}ll(Z(} arising from banality and its triyiai. exaggerated scuttlebutt. Here. the local grayedigger. Mick
s to the head for further punishment.
iJohn Langfordi must engage annually in the ghoulish business of exhuming seven years' dead bodies and disposing of the bones to make room in the local
churchyard. A bad enough Job. but this year he's required to dig up his ‘.'.’ll(}. who he's long been suspected of prematurely dispatching. local ne'er-do“-.'.r'ell lvlaitin iKeyin Lennoni assists hut: in this task. ‘.'.’llll(} Maitin‘s brother Tom. the local plod. shifts around the business suspiciously. \"t/lien the grave is opened. there's plenty for local busybody Maiyionny iNuala Walsh) to be gossiping
After a slovxish start. the griin farce comes to the fore. ‘.'.’llll McCrone eliciting soine fleet footed timing and
Cone with the wind
inoyeinent from his actors and the general yuckiness of the subject creating no shortage of bilious laughter. llllf; is a sniait. neat bit of theatre that exploits ininiinal resources to the full. iSteye ()raiiiei.
DRAMA PREMIERE WITHOUT A TRACE
Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, until Thu 3 Oct, then touring 0...
It takes something fair/y large to (l\.'.«'arf a grand piano. But the massive opticians' instrument y-xith a large circular mirror in Richard Ayrlwin's set establishes beyond doubt the hierarchy of science and art in Care; K Mack’s fact-based drama. in its European premiere by the Sounds of Progress integrated theatre company. under the direction of Gerda Steyenson.
Paris. 178.71. lvlaria Paradies Karina Jones is a yirtuoso pianist. despite haying been blind since four years old. Doctors have tried. and failed. to cure her blindness. until it falls to one Fran/ lvlesmer iPeter Kelly» whose mystical healing renders her capable of sight. out somehoy'.’ destroys her musical abiiities. From beginning to end this is a lucid and poetic production. ful‘. of humanity and honesty. opening our man eyes to the on-going conflict bet\.'.'een art and science. and becoming a philosophical debate on the yalue of sight.
Peter Kelly. as the doctor caught bets/cert art and science. understanding and respecting both. is as genuine and gently human as Karina Jones' Maria is fragile and \.'u|neral_)le. The sinc arity of their performances makes eyen more cogent the mutual trust of the-ir characters' relationshp. "Va/hat stirs us most profoundly is iny'asmle.‘ Mesmer says. a concept the cornpetitiye and pursuant doctors cannot grasp. Beheye it. See it. Gareth Dayiess
.1". .‘ THE LIST 67