ALADTATCt-J THE CUTTING ROOM Citizens‘ Theatre. Glasgow. Wed 22 Oct-Sat 15 Nov
Louise Welsh: Mll she go in drag?
‘I remember a long time ago. seeing Tam Dean Burn in the Scotia Bar in Glasgow and thinking that's a frightening individual,‘ says the novelist
SHAKESPEARE} ROMEO AND JULIET Theatre Royal. Glasgow, 21 -
he has lost none of his commitment to letting plays. new 25 Oct or old. speak for then‘sel‘.'es. 'The play does need youthful
Louise Welsh. Who better. then. to adapt. perform in and co-direct Welsh‘s debut novel. The Cutting Room, for the Citizens‘ Theatre?
The air of spectral menace tinged with vulnerability that Burn is so good at conveying will certainly come in handy when playing the book's narrator - a gay auctioneer over-fond of whisky. amphetamines and cruising in Kelvingrove Park. ‘They call me Rilke to my face. behind my back the Cadaver. the Corpse. Walking Dead.‘ he introduces himself. Yet. though Rilke may have the physical air of a vampire. his moral sense has not been completely extinguished. During a house clearance. he stumbles upon a set of old photographs that appear to show a woman who has been murdered during an orgy. Compelled to discover her identity. he starts following a Chandleresque trail through the seamy backstreets of Glasgow. Published by Canongate in 2002, The Cutting Room has been one of Scottish literature's most unexpected recent success stories. with film rights long since sold.
It was at a book reading at the Arches in Edinburgh. shortly before the novel's publication. that Welsh and Burn's paths first crossed properly. ‘Tam asked me what my book was about. When I told him. he said, “Sounds like one for me."' He read the book in proof. and soon expressed an
DRAMA BLOOD AND ICE
Royal Lyceum. Edinburgh. Fri 24 Oct-Sat 15 Nov
interest in adapting it for the stage. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with. This atmospheric novel conjures a Glasgow that’s as rich and sinister as Dickensian London. But it's also very pacy. and making the episodic. chronological thriller structure work in the theatre will be a real test of Burn‘s stagecraft.
But Welsh has faith in him. ‘I think when you‘re writing about pornography you have to be very careful.‘ she says. ‘There are lines you don‘t want to cross. When I was writing the book I thought a lot about the politics of porn. where I stood on it. You become particularly aware of that when you come to talking about an adaptation. You don't just want to give it to anyone. It needs to be someone with integrity and I think Tam has that.‘
For Welsh. handing her creation over to another writer has evidently been a strange experience. ‘But then the main thing with any adaptation. it seems to me. is to choose the person you feel will do it well. then leave it alone. So I‘ll be as intrigued as anyone. I‘ve told Tam that if me being there makes him nervous. I won‘t go to the first night.
But then, sounding just for a moment like one of her own characters. she adds: ‘On second thoughts, if that‘s the case I'll just have to go in with a false moustache and pretend to be a man.’ (Adrian Turpin)
The very day spoke to Stephen Unwin, the director of English Touring Company's Romeo and Juliet. , his Juliet lLaura Reesi got so wrapped up in her role that when she came to the balcony scene. she leaned tom'ard too far and plummeted eight feet to the stage.
It SOunds like her pride WI” take longer to heal than her bumps and bruises and. fonunately. only one performance has had to be cancelled. 80 if its reasonable to assume UnWin has assembled an enthusiastic — some WOuId say flighty — cast. what else will define his production of the evergreen Hagedy?
The crtiCial pomt for the director is that there's mom to Romeo and Juliet than the yOung lovers. Unwm was artistic director of Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre in the late 80s when he helped establish the names of Tilda Swmton and Alan Cumming. and
energy. but there are three generations at work: the kids. the parents and the grandparents.’ he says. 'The play has the idyll in the heart of it. but then surrounds it with so much soual realism that it allows yOu to look at this dream of love as just one perspective an‘ong n‘any'
He wants audiences to see bey0nd the Clutter. whether that's the oy'erbearing influence of the Bar Luhrmann n‘ovie or just the dead hand of tradition. How many peOple. for example. notice that Romeo and Juliet do actually get married. so she's got a pretty good excuse for not wanting to pair up with F’aris’.> 'Everybody thinks they've seen Romeo and Juliet because they've seen the film and they know abOut this romantic scene on the balc0ny.' he says. ‘But it's a ri‘uch n‘ore interesting play than people think — and more centplicatedf (Mark Fisher)
Laura Rees (left) bruised but unbowed
64 THE LIST 16—30 Oct 200.3
Liz Lochhead: A female Don Juan next?
It's a brave player/right who concedes lll£tl)[)ll\,’i two weeks before curtain up: "I‘ve written a couple of good plays but most don't x-xork.‘ But then SC’JTll‘ill .vritei li/ Lochhead is the exception to the rule. With her inaugural work Blood and /ce. which premiered at the Traverse in 1982. Lochhead successfully realised the task of imagining two of the most prolific poets of the Romantic era — B/rpn and Shelley - and their relatIOnships with their own monsters. both personal and Illi'lfélF,’.
'l was interested in why and how Mary Shelley. the daughter of rational philosopher William Godwin and Mary Wollstoitecraft, would wire up .‘Jllll a new myth and a whole new style of writing] says Lochhead.
While the script has been re-imagined by several different co'i'panies post-198?. reVisiting it for the Lyceum is a new challenge. “It's a bit like those well-loved reconls that yeti can't listen to anymore. Because the song's a frag'i‘ent of y'Ourself and you aren't that person anymore, don't hare the sa'i‘e questions and longings within myself now. It's good though, like adapting 'r‘,'8(:lf al'irost.'
Creatively. she's in good company. Director Graharit McLaren has an unrivalled legaCy with Lochhead's work. The wonderful Theatre Babel took the Fringe by storm in 2001, under his direction, with Lochhead's sumptuous adaptation of Euripides it/fedea. This festival, McLaren directed Lochhead's Trier/ans,
So why do Blood. . . now? Following Mark Thorr‘scn's .vell reset/ed JU/qu.‘ Caesar has the ante been upped? “Blood. . has always appealed To young male directors. It's a hard one to bring off. '.‘.’lllCll 'T‘akeS it tantalising. The sandards are high but the actors are really fantastic and if it works. will be storder‘ll'."
So what next? Time to tame a different b ast. a different "yth’? ".‘Jho knows. Not the Bachhae exactly. but I'd like to get to the sa/agei‘vess of that One Don Juan. maybe. Juan is a 'T‘ﬁll. Ma, be it COuld be Donna Juan "3.1. Do Juan as a ‘fuck-hin‘.-and-cnuck-hi'ii' ‘.‘.’O'l‘af‘.. eh?‘
Now there's one worth waiting for. Anna h/llllal‘