' Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat



28 Feb 0...

This is the kind of play you’d be delighted to find one afternoon on the Edinburgh Fringe. A two-hander by Zinnie Harris, author of Further Than the Furthest Thing, it is a short and intense piece of storytelling theatre that makes up in the quality of its writing and acting what it lacks in grand ambition.

It's set after the release from prison of a young woman called Chase. She’s a perennial shoplifter with possible mental health problems, but means to go straight, not least for the sake of her son who she hasn’t seen for ten months. Her husband, Nightingale, is also anxious to make a fresh go of things, hoping to rebuild their relationship and trying to be as sympathetic as he can.

If only life were so simple. By writing with understanding and empathy, Harris shows that it takes more than good intentions to deal with the trauma of such a situation. Chase is suffering a form of shock, bursting with things to say but them. incapable of communicating them. Harris drives home this point by structuring the play around a series of monologues. While Lewis

CONTEMPORARY DANCE SCOTTISH DANCE THEATRE Dundee Rep, Thu 19—Sat 21 Feb, then touring

Scottish Dance Theatre has a lot to smile about at the moment. Last month the dancers returned from London clutching the Critics‘ Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Repertoire; work on the company's new {31 m rehearsal studio is well under way; and award-winning choreographer Didy Veldman has just created a new work for them. It would seem that SDT's place on the world dance stage is well and truly established.

Ironic then. that Veldman's new piece. Track. should focus on the need to belong. A former Scapino Ballet and Ramben dancer. Veldman has spent the past 17 years choreographing for some of the finest and largest dance companies in the world. But a desire to create a more intimate piece prompted her to get in touch with SDT's artistic director. Janet Smith. Renowned for their openness and ability to contribute to the creative process. Smith's dancers have enabled Veldman to explore our very human need to feel at one with each other.

'The need to belong is something we're confronted with a lot in society whether it's to a community. a partner. political groups or certain fashions.’ says Veldman. ‘But I've tried to approach it with humour. I'm not commenting on whether it's right or wrong, it's something that‘s there in a lot of us and we take different actions to fit in.‘ (Kelly Apter)

Leaping ahead

66 THE LIST 1%) Feb 4 Mar 1200/;

Howden delivers his opening speech - a past-tense description of his wife’s first night home, both one-sided and credible - Lesley Hart lies curled up, inert, as if to emphasise the barrier between

By the time he turns to violence and she returns to her thieving ways, we might not condone their actions, but we can see their logic.

Lewis Howden and Leslie Hart

This is in no small part due to the conviction of the performances: Howden brilliantly projects the air of a well-meaning man who wants only the best for his wife, despite his vicious temper; Hart, meanwhile, cleverly captures the exterior toughness of a character who is a mess of emotional vulnerability on the inside.

(Mark Fisher)

Shakespeare gets a bloody rose



Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, until Sat 21 Feb; then touring 0

If music be the food of love. it can rarely have been so out of tune as in this shambolic production of Shakespeare's great romantic tragedy. It is nothing short of astonishing that experienced director Benjamin Twist has brought such a poorly conceived presentation to the stage.

Designer Evelyn Barb0ur's set. which combines the clinically modern with kitsch cherubs from the Italian Renaissance. is a confused. uninspired mish—mash. which suffers further from its heavy-handed Symbolism. The costumes (which are at their farcical worst in the scene in which Romeo and his comrades gatecrash the Capulets' fancy dress party) also contribute to the overall sense of incoherent gimmickry. A strong cast might have been able to make something of this melange. but the casting is woefully inapprOpriate. Sandy Grierson is too young and inexperienced to play the role of the wise Prince of Verona. while Tommy Mullins is also out of his depth in the male lead.

It isn't sufficient to put the palpable failure of this production down to the rawness of the young actors. however. Twist has imbued the entire piece with a cartoonishness which makes the playing of even the most experienced actors seem thin. As it ends. after an unbearable three hours. one is in no doubt that the Bard's tragedy has truly been repeated as farce. (Ben Walters)

HIGHLAND DRAMA SEVEN AGES Gilmorehill, Fri 27 Feb, thentounng

Sadly, we seem to live in an ahistorical society. Few folks seem to see any link between themselves and their past. so there seems to be little ability to learn from our mistakes. Mention historical drama to people and they tend to imagine posh frocks and love stories. or something equally dull. But there's a lot more to history than that. If you don’t believe me. ask Dogstar. a new theatre company from the Highlands.

In Scotland afore ye

It's mounting a new production of poet and novelist Hamish MacDonald's account of Highland life through the centuries. In it. we see a lively account of magic. witches. war and such eccentrics as Sir Thomas Urgurhart of Cromarty. who laughed himself to death upon hearing of the demise of Cromwell. It all sounds like fun. with plenty of wit intermixed with tragedy and drama.

Featuring live Celtic music from fiddler Jonny Hardie of the Old Blind Dogs and world class harpist Mary Macmaster. the evening promises a lyricism and harmony that WI“ please any crowd. There's long been a perceived division between Scottish theatre in the Highlands and that of the central belt. and this kind of work from a bright young company is to be admired for bridging the cultural divide. (Steve Cranier)