SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 9—Sat 13 Mar
Dark family secrets
What is it that truly shocks us? We’ve explored the aesthetics of shock and its capacity to rupture the normal mindset of an audience for many a year in all forms of art, but particularly in the theatre. There aren’t many issues in relation to human sexuality or violence that would surprise a contemporary audience. But Michael Grandage, director of this touring production of a lesser known Tennessee Williams, has an answer. ‘All the themes of guilt and such things as homosexuality were no doubt shocking in the 19505, but liberal - and I think probably non-liberal - people have really come to terms with that. But there’s still a finale to this that would shock anyone.’ What is it? Well, that would be telling, but it’s been quite in the news lately.
Williams’ narrative, given a rare production by Philip Prowse in the Circle studio of the Citizens’ last year, might also be remembered as a film from the 605 with Elizabeth Taylor, resplendent in a white swimming costume. But the film pulled some of its punches in relation to the theatre original. The story of old Mrs Venable and her rivalry with young Katherine, the last companion of her now dead son for his untarnished memory, is as intriguing as it is creepy. Throw in a dodgy doctor and a
rapacious family and there’s some very creepy goings on to deal with.
And the role of Mrs Venable is played by that other female icon of the 605, Diana Rigg, something which clearly pleases Grandage. ‘I got my first choice for the part and it’s always wonderful to get that. I’ve watched her a lot over the years, and she’s clearly not an actress who minds appearing in any way ugly or unsympathetic. There are a lot of actresses who want to hang on to something about being loved by their audiences. She clearly doesn’t have any of that. In television and theatre work she’s one of those people who goes for it, aggressively and formidably, at the expense of anything to do with her. But she’s come to the character, pulling away all kinds of layers from this character who isn’t just a monster, there’s really a lot to her. And then there’s the shock factor. (Steve Cramer)
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 9—Sat 13 Mar, then touring.
MuSIc-theatre company Theatre Cryptic (now celebrating its tenth anniversary) is renowned for its highly stylish productions which are as aurally affecting as they are Visually sumptuous. Its award- winning 2002 show Each and Every Inch dramatised the life of the Canadian writer Elizabeth Smart. using live music. performance.
68 THE LIST $18 Mar 2004
recorded voices and installation. It made for a memorably elegiac journey around Glasgow's CCA.
Its latest offering. Tunnel VISIONS. has much in common with its successful predecessor. Like Each and Every Inch, it integrates a variety of artistic forms. from live music and film to visual art and new electronic media. The narrative. which forms the basis for Tunnel V/srons is. if anything. even more intriguing than the complex biography of Smart. The real life story of Homer and Langley Collyer. eccentric brothers who lived together in New York in the 1940s. is both touching and discomfiting.
Homer was blind. and Langley. an inventor who dedicated his life to attempting to restore his brother's sight. The pair lived lives of obsessive reclusiveness. barricading themselves in their garbage-strewn home and doing their utmost to mod contact with other people. Their story became a
cause celebre when it was picked up by the New York Times. which ran a series of articles about them.
A remarkable statement by Langley gives us a sense of why Cryptic's artistic director Cathie Boyd considered the Collyer brothers' lives to be the stuff of art. ‘When Homer first lost his sight. he used to see visions of beautiful buildings. always in red.‘ he said. ‘He would describe them to me and I would try to paint them just as he directed. Some day. when Homer regains his sight. I will show the paintings to him.‘ Composer Anthea Haddow, who has written original music for the piece. was attracted by ‘the special fantastical world created by two brothers in isolation'. She finds her aesthetic suited to the fact that ‘Homer lives his life through a series of imaginary dreams and fantasies'. It also seems especially well suited to the poignant aesthetic of Theatre Cryptic. (Ben Walters)
LIVE ART NATIONAL REVIEW OF LIVE ART
Arches Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 17-Sun 21 Mar
Think of it as the performance an equivalent of T in the Park. The five-day National Review of Live Art is a non-stop feast of experimentation, featuring installations. video. dance and theatre. with only the mornings off to recover. You can stay all day for $8 or book into the whole thing for E35.
Sitting at the heart of the month-long New Territories festival. the NRLA swarms into the Arches to give a showcase to artists both new and established. It's the longest running event of its type in Europe and has given a leg up to many of the leading names in avant garde performance.
Performance artists being what they are. you do have to take a leap of faith before checking out what's going on. The official programme is full of enigmatic twaddle that gives you little idea what to expect. Liz Aggiss. for example. claims to be “emotionally strapped into the work'. Marie Cool and Fabio Balducci regard their performance as ‘prayers'. while Mark Jeffery has been trying to 'capture forces of movement and materiality from inside his body'. It's only by giving these genre-defying pieces a look that you'll be able to see what they're driving at.
Those of a political bent will want to see Robert Franciszty from Croatia. a practitioner of pro—animal art wrth an anti-fur trade performance: Takuri Kogo. who'll be looking at the failure of globalisation via the defunct Hyundai/Motorola factory near Dunfermline: and Zoran Todorovic. who has had part of his body surgically removed to create the “finest human soap'. allowing. in theory. a Croat to be cleansed with a Serb.
Running alongside the packed programme by established practitioners is a new series called Elevator that will seek to give a boost to young artists who have already shown promise.
Names to look Out for include Tim Etchells. the prime mover in Forced Entertainment. who'll be giving a performance/lecture to mark the company's 20th anniversary; Daniel Leveille. the acclaimed Quebecois choreographer: and Tehching Hsieh. now retired. who'll be talking about his work which includes a piece that lasted for 13 years (the interval queue for the toilets was horrendous). (Mark Fisher)