The Front

Graham Eatough in Suspect Culture’s Lament. Can we afford to lose this company?

The hrea 0 great heatre

cottish theatre has never been so weak. so flabby. so out of touch with

history.’ These are the words. uttered late last year. of a Scottish theatre

insider namely George Gunn. head of the Sutherland-based Grey Coast theatre company. And he has a point. The Scottish theatre world has been left reeling by revelations that some of its best respected companies are under threat. In the worst case. if funding cuts are made over the coming two years. Scotland could see the demise of 7:84 . Grid Iron and Suspect Culture (whose extraordinary 8.000 Metres production is previewed on page 22). It would take a long time to recover from such a decimation of this country's most creative independent companies. In this respect. Scottish theatre has never been in such a weak position. But here's where we part company with Gunn's bleak analysis.

As the country gears up for an exciting new National Theatre. and the imminent appointment of its creative director. Scotland has a once in a lifetime opportunity to give a stronger voice to its theatre. Rather than splashing millions on a new building. the Arts Council has wisely decided simply to fund a commissioning agency: an umbrella organisation which will facilitate theatre through existing companies.

But what will the National Theatre do if the best of these independent companies have been starved of funding and. in all probability. disbanded and moved to London in search of work‘.’ It will almost certainly focus on safe crowd- pleasers. bought in from elsewhere. We don't deny that a blend of the commercial and the less~so is necessary. But if the Arts (‘ouncil is not careful. experimentation and creativity will wither. and the rest of George Gunn's broadside will heave sickeningly into view. Scottish theatre could easily become flabby and lose touch with its fine recent history.


STRIP MUGS Ahh January. a time of hibernation and meditation. SO you survived Christmas and now is the time to take back all those really crap presents yOu received. When you've done that. you go through what is left and you basically stay indoors. The New Year celebrations may have wrped you out financially but there is nothing to stop you havrng a little bit of home-made fun in this, the quretest of months. Strip mugs may seem a crass idea at the pomt of sale. but they really are the gift that keeps on giving. Drinking lots of tea and indoor recalcitrance is all par for the course at the moment. and if every half an hour or so you can watch a man‘s penis or a woman's special place appear from behind a thong. as your hot detox herbal tea splashes against the innards of the glazed china. then that is what we call in the business a cheap thrill. And cheap thrills are hard to come by these days. Hell, who knows. if you are lucky enough to be all alone in the house you can maybe touch yourself before spilling boiling water onto the cat. (Paul Dale) I Strip mugs are available from all good tat emporiuins for around 535

10 THE LIST 8-22 Jan 2004

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1 Lost in Translation

Film Sofia Coppola follows up her dreamy Virgin Sucides with a ‘stranger in a strange Iand’ tale set in Japan. starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. See feature and Film pages 22 and 27. Selected release.

2 League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume II

Comics A very handsome hardback collection features the further adventures of the Victorian “superhero team’. And it's a wee bit better than the film. See Read it this Fortnight, page 87. 77tan.

3 Justin Timberlake

Music He‘s so much more than a Jacko wannabe trousersnaker. For one thing. the ‘Cry Me a River' song/video combo was clearly touched by genius. See Big Picture. page 8 and Music. page 44. SECC, Glasgow.

4 Janice McNab

Art Following her paintings of chemical poisoning victims. McNab gives us new works depicting floatation tanks and abandoned aeroplane chairs. See Art, page 74. Talbot Rice Gallery. Edinburgh.

5 Tokyo Story

Film Contemplation. humanity and generosity are rare qualities in film these days (don't see Love Actually for details). But they're abundant in this classic Ozu reisssue about post—war Japan. See Film. page 27. Selected release.

6 Celtic Connections

Music A stellar array of talent brightens up the post-Yuletide pallor as we welcome the likes of Shane MacGowan, Mariza. Kate Rusby. Lloyd Cole and Bob Geldof. See Music. page 42. Various venues, Glasgow.

7 Jonathan Lethem

Books He may have been dubbed ‘dim and talentless' by Tom Paulin, but we reckon the cantankerous Irishman is missing the boat on this Brooklyn writer. Fortress of Solitude is a poetic paean to friendship. See Books. page 88.Faber

8 A Life in the Theatre

Theatre Mamet’s look at the world as a stage literally gives the audience a view of the actors' universe. Jimmy Chisholm and Joe McFadden give it their all. See Theatre. page 55. Lyceum,


9 Daniel Kitson

Comedy His fleeting love affair with The List may be over. but we still have fond memories of Danny at his best. Could he be heading back into our arms soon? See Comedy, page 61. Stand, Edinburgh.

10 The Edge of the World Video/DVD Michael Powell's first feature still stands the test of time, telling the stark tale of a community (St Kilda) struggling to come to terms with the modern, mad world. See Video/DVD, page 94. BFI.