SCOTTISH PREMIERE A LIFE IN THE THEATRE Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, until Sat

31 Jan 0...

I’m told it’s hard for good musicians to play deliberately badly. If the same applies to actors, then Jimmy Chisholm deserves all the high praise already heaped upon him by critics and audiences alike. His portrayal of an ageing actor of limited ability, toiling away to diminishing returns in David Mamet’s homage to theatre is both moving and riotoust funny. Seldom were ham and cheese so well combined in a sandwich as they are in Chisholm’s gloriously inept rendering of a scene from a love triangle drama, attempting to cover broken flies, as he murders one truism of the genre after another. Mamet’s story gives us Robert (Chisholm) and John (Joe McFadden); two actors of

from WW1 dramas to said love

Ham and cheese: Jimmy Chisholm and Joe McFadden

accumulates pathos as things move spartan and shimmering, while on, and we realise that for all the smartly self-conscious luvvydom in shabby grandeur of an old theatre Tony Cownie’s production, this is a contrasting ages and styles at what play as much about the all-

looks like a down-at-heal provincial consuming lifestyles of any

rep. The summer stock they render, profession, not just the theatre. Cownie has given a frankly triangles, interweaves through their difficult text the full treatment, and onstage and backstage lives as the in adding a deft farcical touch to

Geoff Rose’s set captures the

building. McFadden’s role as foil to the bumptious character at the centre works well, moving with stealthy precision from admiring young actor to potential star, with all that this power shift entails. The devil is in the detail, and both of

two experience a shifting balance of proceedings, brings off an engaging these actors have mastered it. This

power. As young John moves up the and funny piece of theatre, which

early Mamet is certainly not one of

career ladder, eventually receiving a also restlessly questions the ethics his great pieces; but this production

film role, Robert’s bitterness increases. The older man



Dundee Rep, Sat 23 Jan; Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 31 Jan

The last time Richard Strange came to Edinburgh. he was trapped inSide a lift. Well. not trapped exactly. more confined in one of the Edinburgh Fringe's more unusual venues. Every day. the 53-year-old would climb inside the small metal box and delight Pleasance punters wrth songs. and excerpts fron‘ his autobiography. Punks and Drunks and Flicks and Kicks.

Back in the capital. this time as guest artist wrth Protein Dance Company. Strange should find the Traverse stage gargantuan by comparison. ‘l'm looking forward to playing in a big space' he laughs. with a voice born to boon‘ across auditoriums. Which is exactly what it's done. and a whole lot more besides. for the past (30 years. One of the pivotal figures at the birth of punk. Strange went on to carve out careers in the worlds of music. acting and writing. And. according to his websrte. he's been robbed by the Sex Pistols. sung a duet with Twrggy and trashed an art gallery with Jack Nicholson.

But that's all in the past. These days he's hanging out with Protein Dance. demonstrating how our caveman instincts aren't too far behind us. The Banquet is dance drama meets anthropology. a show which exposes us for the animals we really are. Playing the 'host' at a dinner party. Strange has been compared to nature man. Richard Attenborough.

'There are moments when I'm at the Side of the stage. very much in Attenborough mode.‘ says Strange. ‘l'm analysing behavrour and commenting on what I'm watchrng.‘ Although serious at heart. comedy plays a big part in The Banquet. "There's a lot of text in the piece and much of the humour comes from that." he explains. ‘And the fact that it doesn't matter if you're wearing a suit or cocktail dress. the moment that veneer is stripped away. there's something very . elemental still there.’

Strange fruits (Kelly Apterl

58 THE LIST 7? Jan 5; let) 200-4

of his, and other professions. lain Johnson’s piano music is by turns

makes it more than worth the journey. (Steve Cramer)

Cl ASSK) Rt VEVAl STILL LIFE Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sun 25 Jan 0000

When the Ti‘averse's all new rendering of John Byrne's S/ar’) Boys trilogy kicked off last November. the casting of Paul lhon‘as Hickey as the playwrights alter ego. Phil. looked well Judged, With the opening of the final episode. it seems positively inspired. Hi(:k(>y has a superb grasp of the brooding bitterness of the disappointed west of Scotland visionary. Seff rtxtaruing. yet impressiver sardonic. his Phil has a gazlows lttlll‘().i" perfectly suited to the cemetery in which the ltlél‘. :s set. \.".7-‘."‘. iittle beyond a (I()ll‘llt|i§f$l()ll(}(l fresco on a chip shop ‘.'.'all to look forward to. this struggling artist is l'l 't() mood to pd fareweri. " turn. to his work mate Hector and his long troubled ir‘otner.

Str/l Life is a multifaceted creature. A two ac‘. plaj. set in ‘98/ and 19/2. much of its humour appears to be based upo" an identification with the characters first introduced to us " Stobo's carpet factory in 19:37. Ho‘.'.'e\.(3". t'ie pece is eduarfi. concerned with creating an exploratno" z)‘ the cii tu'a. l)()‘.'.'-:?-" of the USA and a technicolor variant on the socia' l(?£ll'f3ll‘ c‘ the kitchen sink drama. tucille Mole; lit-hes and .lack llogg .Jo'r" Ka/eki are back. but they are little "tore t"a't f.."<:tio"a' es 'l a tragicoinedy about male friendsl‘ir). the <:oht'astin<_i ‘o'f..rtes o" Phil tan art show ll‘. Dunoon: and Spank; Stateside success follov‘ring the breakthrough of his band t'te Sparking Casca s highlight the fact that their loyalty to each other s heart. “to the rock of the ll‘.£l|(? bonding hall of ‘aii‘e.

There are moments. such as Phil's s 3coi‘rt act‘e"t ‘.'.ltl Lucille. where Byrne's writing descends into scapiness. But for the most part. both the script and Roxana S :oert's directing maintain a tremendous sense of garish lupei 'eaiism and humanistic comedy which make this a gemihel‘. r'iei"a'at>ie production. rlvtar'k Br‘owni

A passionate undertaking


King’s Theatre, Edinburgh. Tue 3—Sat 7 Feb.

Taking srdes is exactly what Ronald Harwood doesn’t want to do. The playwright. who won an Oscar for his work on Roman Polanskr's brilliant Warsaw ghetto movie The Pianist. believes strongly that drama should not be didactic.

So. although the Subject of Taking Sides is the conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler. who continued to work in Hitler's Germany while his colleagues were fleeing. Harwood refuses to make a Judgement on whether he was guilty or innocent of Na/i collusion.

Hitler dances

‘lt's ambrguous.‘ says Harwood. best known as author of The Dresser. 'lt's a constant argument between the artist as artist. and the artist as private man. I'm not Judgemental and I leave it to the audrence.’

First seen in 199:3. when it was a hit in the West End and on Broadway. and more recently turned into a movie with Harvey Keitel. the play is now revrved as a star vehicle for Neil Pearson and Julian Glover. Pearson plays a US interrogz‘itor in the de-Na/ification tribunal that investigated the conductor. played by Glover. after the war. ‘He was a great musician and he saved over 100 Jews ~ but they were all musicians and he auditioned them first.' says l~lar\.vood. "They had to be good musicians. It's a very difficult case to pin down. He was never a member of the Nazi party. but he was Hitler's favourite conductor.’ itvlark Fisher)