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Nickers in a tryst

Well, the hypocrisy of some folk knows no end. Just as the Traverse is congratulated for reviving The Slab Boys trilogy as part of its 40th birthday celebrations, so I’ve heard a couple of detractors damn 7:84 for reviving Dario Fo’s excellent political farce as part of its 30th. They’re both splendid works of theatre from the 705, so why the double standards? Well, the key word cited above is ‘political’. Mention the word to some quite senior theatre circles and they’ll go into desperate, toxic denial about the relevance of any talk about class division, multinational greed or international barbarism to today’s theatre. My advice to these folks is ‘go to your window, and look out’. I’ll discourse more freely on this subject elsewhere in the theatre section.

Meantime, many years on from its last full-scale revival, the story of the economic travails of two Italian couples might well work afresh for this generation. The women of the families have taken to shoplifting in order to make ends meet, and as the men object, all are thrown into a succession of increasingly urgent concealments and escapes to evade the authorities.

Arches artistic director Andy Arnold, temporarily filling the director’s spot at 7:84, also defends the relevance of Fo’s piece. ‘There are a couple of dated references, but take these away and it works very well, because it’s so funny,’ he says. There’s stuff about poverty, rising prices and the need to make ends meet, as well as the way that woman come to grips with situations that men can’t, that doesn’t date at all.’ Quite right. (Steve Cramer)

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BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Playhouse, Edinburgh, Thu 13 Feb—Sat 12 Apr

\.'."'ien the York iriies published its ot' ‘Eiéil. it uecia'ed that the best Brogidway l“.lf3l(I£ti was not on Broadx'xay. IDLll in crnen‘as. And hence. Bth’ib’f‘. and the Beast the stage ‘.(}l'f‘>l()l‘i '.'.'as born.

For director Robert Jess Roth. the nest drtfrcul‘. elerr‘ent l.". coriceritualrsing the transitior‘ was portraying the enchanted ()l)l(3(lif$ :" '.".(;' Beasts castle. ‘l ri'iri'i". .vant to sa‘. to an actor: "OK. be 'ti"'tl)()'..m ,

t l." (I(}l‘itrl‘r(2’.1()ll‘.'.’lltl‘.'.’l'li(}!' l ana \.'.r'o<;i'.'er'.ori. the, t‘.'.'isted the s‘.or~,ln:e tc ri‘ake the castle seryants cr‘a'ge gradually into inarxrritate objects. Ai‘ ‘llfSIll’tL‘tl Tititilfiltll‘: {t't(l one that adds eye'i 'T‘t)."(,‘ co'iipassion to the story.

\.'~."or:i‘.'c-."tori's ()l"(ll".£t| rr‘aster'str‘oke in adapting the centuries old tragic filth/{UM} .'.'as 1.". representing the rose as a symbol of tlie Beasts soiib an icon that is ori‘riipresent on stage I l'()ll‘ an lllt(3"(?f31 z" rij,'ti‘.olr,g,. she dewsed an errrfi‘trr‘tress ‘.'.’tl() casts a spell over a soailess or rice. and onl, '.'.'hen he learns to one can the speii be broken. 'lhe tale then becorr‘es about r'ederi‘ptioii.' says ‘~.'.",ol'.r,-r".on. '.'.rhich is the story that l .‘xanterl to tell'

I.“ keeping with the adult theii‘es of the production. the stage version re

Give beast a chance

introduced a song by lloy'xar‘d Ashman. the ay'xar'rl—winning lyricist of The Lift/e i'r/i’er/iia/ri' who died of AIDS before the n‘usical n‘ade rt to Br‘oadx‘xay. 'Humari Again' s sung by the obiects in the castle. Reflecting of its popularity. Disney animated the song for inclusion in the re released yideo.

Translated into ftve languages and ‘i'iving toured the ‘.‘.’()t|(l for ten years. Beauty and the Beast will be transported to l-drribuigh for a two ri‘oiitli residency. Director J :-ss ltotn is in no doubt that Scottish audiences ‘.'.'lll be (Iiil)tl‘.'ttl(?(l by tne urii'.ersality of the story. 'llie truth is. loy'e is lone is love iii l dinburgh. in New York and Japan. It transcends language.’ rMatrieen t :risi




Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 30 Jan—Sat 1 Feb 0000

The capacity audience clapped and cheered this old fashioned musical. adapted for the stage by Charles Freeman from the 19:31 Hollywood favourite. The audience's pleasure was palpable.

Toyah Wilcox is our petite Tomboy heroine. Like a palomino pony. wrth long cascading strawberry blonde hair. she throws herself about the stage Wltll aplomb. Fast on her lines and feet. she is a real firecracker. A particular delight is Toyah being tossed in a blanket by the entire company. Only in her ballads. especially in ‘Secret Love'. does Toyah fail to deliver. The immortal Doris Day refuses to relrngursh the part. Alasdair Harvey as her love interest was in fine form and voice.

Ed Curtis directs a \.'./ell-dr'illed. happy company who play rt broad but good natured. Delights aplenty come from designer Simon Higlett. His black hills

Lez, not miserable

of Dakota are evocative and work on a purely theatrical way. as do hrs riiinrature model houses which make up the Deadwood landscape. It only the production had continued in this original vein. rt could have been even more memorable. Go along with a group of women friends and lap rt up. Ca/ariiity Jane is a delight. rJohn Biririrer

HISTORICAL DRAMA TOM PAINE GilmorehillG12, Glasgow, until Sat 1 Feb .0.

Paul Foster's play about the life and times of Tom Paine. the man credited with creating and naming the United States of Ariier‘rca via the War of Independence. was written and staged in 1967. The programme acknowledges that this was itself a period of revolutionary urges. both here and in the US. which partially accounts for the play's success then, and apparent lack of purpose here. today.

Although well performed. we learn very little about Paine himself from the play. beyond the fact that he was overly partial to drink. This makes him a difficult character to get to grips with. although Liam Hurley's confident performance as Paine's Reputation. guoting directly from his writing. gives a strong handle on Paine's work.

Mostly. though. the action is concerned with the political processes and effects of his work. becoming at times a slightly wearing. protracted history lesson. The most successful scene is the satirical re-enactment of Paine's trial for seditious libel. in 1792. where a court of Judges ‘flip' to decide his guilt.

"i'he Brechtian production style is awfully hard work. for both cast and audience. but there are enough strong moments :ri this production to carry you through the agewearied political satire. and give good reason to reconsider our often negligent treatment of historical heroes. (Gareth Dayresi



King's Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 1 Feb; King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Mon 3—Sat 8 Feb 0000

There is a rule among revrewers not to give away a play's funniest lines. so as not to spoil a future audience's enjoyment. but so comical are some of the acidic observances of William Luce's script that little beads of sweat are appearing on my upper lip wrth the effort of restraining myself.

Tom Contr plays the legendary riiatinee idol. John Barrymore. in the twilight of his powers. struggling wrth a ' alcohol problems. alimony poverty Funny account of wasted talen from four tailed marriages and. most of all. his lines. He engages With the offstage presence of his prompt. frank rltupert Farley). in a succession of brittle and occasionally cloying battles. rambling off irretrieyably into fantastical biographical recollections. and losing track of his rehearsal of Ric/wt] Ill. The lights are dimriiing on his greatness in an empty theatre. but the tragedy is cont:nually pathetically reduced by sometin‘es bawdy humour.

In Bryan l or'bes' production. (Joriti's presence is as engaging as eyer. with wonderful parodies of Jimmy Durante and John Gilbert's sgueaky yorce a highlight. though you wonder whether his tendency to mug the flashes of Shakespearean greatness in Bar‘r'yriiore's past doesn't very slightly reduce the final effect. All the same. this is as funny an account of wasted talent as you're likely to see. And wasted talents. sad to say. are always funny to us lesser folk. lSteve Cramer)

.l.rn E -.*l‘ THE LIST 63