COME-[DY ()F MANNFRS NOTHING Citizens‘ Theatre, Glasgow, until sat 20 Dec 0...
Wildean humour and the generation gap
The Citizens’ has proved itself more than capable, over the years, of keeping up with the theatrical times while ploughing its independent furrow. Nowhere has this been clearer, or more successful, than in its studio work. An increasing number of theatres in Scotland are discovering the joys of the small-scale theatre space, but none has been as consistently pioneering as the Citz. Robert David MacDonald’s staging of Henry Green’s 1952 novel Nothing (adapted by Andrea Hart) is a sign that the recent change in directorship at the Gorbals playhouse does not denote a decline in ambition where
the studios are concerned.
The production is, to borrow a well-worn phrase, small but perfectly formed. Fitting snugly around Annie Curtis Jones’ beautifully designed set (all geometrically arranged tables and perfectly located sofas), it dissects, with the wryest of wits, the pampered decay of the English upper-classes in a way not seen since the plays of Oscar Wilde. John Pomfret (Simon Dutton) and Jane Wetherby (Sophie Ward) once broke the tedium of their bourgeois decadence by having a rather spiffing affair. Problem is, now Jane’s son, Philip (Pete Ashmore), is subject to rumours that he is their love child, and not his father’s son. Which is jolly complicated, as Philip simply adores John’s daughter, Mary (Candida Benson). As if this wasn’t difficult enough, John’s current mistress, Liz Jennings (Lorna McDevitt), is being pursued by Jane’s darling friend Dickie Abbot (Derwent Watson). And simply everyone is
gossiping about Philip and Jane.
Hart has extracted such brilliant dialogue from Green’s prose that the comedy acquires a genuinely Wildean character. The inter-generational conflict, which sees the sensible youngsters despair of the loose morals of their parents, is a joy. As are the fake concerned comments regarding the off-stage presence of Arthur Morris, a man whose physical decline is as evocative of the characters’ social degeneration as is the cracked ceiling of Jones’ set. The performances are virtually immaculate throughout, with actors spitting disingenuous words like poison from first to last. Final word must go, however, to Ward, whose performance as the unctuous Jane is spine-tinglingly excellent. (Mark Brown)
Playhouse, Edinburgh, until Sat 13 Dec 00
The word musical might be a misnomer. Fosse is less this than a load of highlights of the musicals the eponymous choreographer worked on. strung together Without a narrative. As such it's like seeing a succession of money shots Without the porn moVie. It's hard to quarrel with the show's formula. since it's plainly been very successful. yet there's something rather incomplete about the songs without their emotional context.
All the same. the numbers are well performed. and it this compilation is sometimes more surprising for the numbers it doesn't contain iwhy allude to Cabaret ".‘JllhOtll the title song?) there are still some memorable numbers. The female members of the company present an admirably- staged ‘B'g Spender'. and there's ’l 'oxely 'lvlr Bejangles' from four of the males in a nuge cast. but
76 THE LIST 7‘: Dec 71303 8 Jan .7004
Too many bowlers, not enough story
sometimes the recurrent tropes employed by Fosse make him look a little mannered and repetitive over the years. There are so many numbers wrth lingerie-clad babes in bowler hats that it all begins to look like a meeting of a transvestite orange lodge. All the same. they were that sexy that it the man in
front had turned suddenly, I could have had his eye out. Ruthie Henshall is lithe of limb and strong of veice in the lead. though not entirely physically convinCing. and the whole effect is really only for those With a particular liking for the late choreographers work.
Playhouse, Edinburgh, Thu 13 Dec- Sat 10 Jan
There‘s a peculiarity about this musical that ought to Cut against it. but doesn't. Most big movie musicals begin life on the West End or Broadway. and eventually make their way to the big screen. after a great deal of traditional Hollywood 'opening out'. The journey of Fame has run in the opposite direction. Unlike Grease. Chicago. Cabaret and so on, Fame has had to undergo a good deal of adaptation to be placed on a stage. Traditionally such experiments are ill- fated. yet the success of this piece speaks for itself. First appearing in the West End eight years ago. it has played continually to big houses both there and on t0ur.
Barbara Dickson from sunny Dunny
I suppose part of the success of this story of the trials and tribulations of a group of young theatre students at a New York academy is our attachment to the idea of education. Recent protests both from the public and the Labour party itself against the government's attempt to prevent working class kids from gaining access to quality education by economically stratifying the already unjust fee-paying system show us just how important the idea is. Perhaps someone should write a musical about this government policy. and call it Shame.
This production boasts the considerable presence of Barbara Dickson. a genuine star of musical. as the teacher Miss Sherman. Dickson is Scottish by birth. hailing from Dunfermline. so this tour marks something of a return home for her. She'll be joined by Noel Sullivan. formerly of Hearsay. as the yOung student. Nick Piazza. All the joy of the original. taxi-st0pping. road blocking film is promised. with none of the high insurance premiums this kind of thing implies. (Steve Cramer)