Mn PLACEBO Traverse Theatre. Edinburgh. until Sat 1 Mar 0....

No intelligent person thinks of Mr Blair as anything more than Mr Bush’s haemorrhoid these days. The question is whether you feel you can do something about it. If you do, then Wilson Milam‘s production of Isabel Wright's new drama might be for you. For within its defiantly naturalistic structure, there’s a sense of rebuilding, of enormous, seemingly insurmountable problems about which it is still possible to be affirmative, and not to give in to fashionable despair. But what makes the play so outstanding is not this, but its humour, pacing and supreme literacy.

In it, four impoverished men submit themselves for medical experiments at a down at heel Glasgow NHS hospital. The four bicker and jape through a five-day long drug therapy session, stuck with each other and themselves, under the supervision of a harassed doctor (Glenn Chapman), whose name, Silas, suggests care given for its own sake. Meanwhile, Weegie hardman Howie (Stuart Bowman) makes his racial, sexual and gender bigotries obvious, spoiling for the fight we know he’ll get. Ben (Garry Collins) a weak-minded student with morbid obsessions and (perhaps causally linked) girl problems tags along, and Tariq

HLVIVA. SHINING SOULS Tron Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 1 Mar .000

()hrs l-lanrian‘s .Jonsorvan (l().'ll(}(l‘, of bad ri‘anneit; still i‘onies o‘l the page ‘.'.'llll plenty of x-p ‘,.ears; after to first incarnation at the liauerse. AIIESOH Peebies‘ production for Vamp captures the rnorali‘, (:ontusaed and fil)!llili£l|l\, bereft feel of the intereoriiieeteii “2'05; of a group of \‘z’eegie f3(;l)(?ltt(} (l'.‘.«'el|ers .".|(Zf}|", here.

Arin vKathmi H()‘.‘.’(l(§!l. it; close to her wedding day. but ‘.-.'he her tshe'il wind up with dagg‘, f'anee Bill, iRod lvlattheixrsi or ex-l)o\,'lrierid BIH‘, iMatt Costelloi "()lllétilif; a moot point. Haxi'ig lost I‘.'.’il‘. sons to suicide. her l(?l{ltl()llf§l)ll) with daughter Mandy :Is;abe|le Jose '8 ‘iaugl‘t with the sexua: rrxalm o‘ middle age VCFSUS youth Maybe she'll run of‘ ".‘Jlil‘. charming (:haneer Charlie 'Paul Blair». or even reigreus fariatie John iBiEIy MeColli’? The ter‘r'is; Glasgoxa' a'id '53oait' don't gel (Basalt, together in the niziid. but you (:an surer see the r'eseiiiblar‘.(:e’?

This; it; a farce about spiritual iinpoverishment and grie‘. with each of the characters; seeking forms of absolutiori an: redemption not l’tHiUll‘, {t\.(tllitbl(} in our age. A huge gre, tenement set by Jacqui Gunn :soriietinies confuses; the action, and not all farce is; perfectly tined. but there's; a kind of gusto to both performance and script which carries :2 through. Howden is riveting at the centre. ‘.‘.l)|l(3 Costero's; blokey bloke toiling ger—zxerfuili, ‘.'.lI.'l her \'l(j|f§f§lili(l(3§3 :5; a treat. (Steve Cramer.

Comedy of ill manners

(Parves Qadir) who desires a child in a marriage without issue, gets abuse from both. Meanwhile music journalist Jude (Benjamin Davies) has problems of his own, with ailing father Frank (John Stall) in a room on the cancer ward upstairs.

A grim irony undercuts the four men wishing away their lives, and hoping to be the placebo in the test, as Frank hangs on to his, and hopes not to be the placebo for a new wonder drug. There‘s an almost medieval sense of heaven and hell in the spacing of Dick Bird's vast and very impressive reconstructed hospital. As a younger generation without focus or a capacity to act fritter their time away with midnight squabbles over telly and pool tables below, Frank, who has acted, and done the best he could with a teaching career and a broken


BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Edinburgh Playhouse. until Sat 12 Apr


The Placebo effect i: .. :.;-’: ' "

marriage, lies dying in a state of _. : ' .._', -'«' literally elevated grace. : . . .i ' .' 7' Meanwhile, Wright’s script > i 2w: deliberately confuses the issues, ' ' r making answers possible, but not easy. ls Howie having a nervous ..» _: breakdown induced by the drug? ' ' '- No, he‘s not taking them. Are the 1. 2'9. ' , endless banal arguments between ' ' Jude and his father to any point? :

Yes, because through the seeming 9v. '9. z " " impasse, they‘re reconstructing. It's ' ' ' °'

complex, it’s not what it seems, and :_._r .. ' c: 5:2: the fact that it’s naturalism makes " us think it should be. This is a i ,4. '." splendid night of theatre, with good «71" : '~ : .1

performances all round, but :-L,-'r «. f particularly from Bowman,a rrr't ' f' ‘-

chillingly believable headcase and .:.=:;. w Stahl whose combination of .'.-:,-. ,'i m ' irascibility and quiet dignity :,-,-.r..t. .1 t. an ; compels us to watch. I).r""r:1> « .. '

(Steve Cramer) H. - 5 . ; '1‘,i-' “E :‘~'. ' ' ; 'v: "

ART "Zed-{t r y : Royal Lyceum. Edinburgh, until Sat 15 Mar 0000 exe; i' ,'2

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": '.'«':' 1 THE LIST 55