Back in the 505, when Groucho Marx had his own TV chat show, he interviewed the couple who had the most children in America - planning to read the novel, put it off until you twentysomething, if memory serves. He asked see this, so the traditional ‘it wasn’t as good as them the natural question: ‘Why do you have so the original’ grumble, often heard when leaving many children?’ The wife’s reply: ‘We like the theatre, can be stood on its head. having children,’ brought the riposte: ‘I like my The six sisters at the centre of the play who cigar, but I take it out of my mouth form a voodoo circle and plot revenge against occasionally,’ and got Groucho his marching the men in their lives are based upon Dillon’s orders from national TV. I can’t help but feel an own sisters. But what about rumours of it being ad lib like this coming on when Des Dillon a true story? His reply speaks volumes for his casually remarks that he has six sisters and two Coatbridge Irish Catholic origins. ‘Well, it’s an brothers. Irish true story,’ he replies coyly. ‘But my sisters The affable Dillon sounds like grand pub did form a witchcraft circle, and would get company down the phone as he talks about together for a few vodies and tell stories and this, and the surprising origins of his new cast spells about men. I had to make the spells comedy at the Lyceum. Dillon is better known up, though, because men weren’t allowed in. It as a novelist and poet, but this, his first play, is was a kind of postmodern Tupperware party not an adaptation of the novel of the same thing.’ name, but vice versa. He had originally written it The humour is very dark, he says. ‘It’s as theatre, for production by Birds of Paradise a necessary, because it’s about real life. And it’s decade ago, but the whims of the Scottish Arts about how people from my background speak.
Scotland wanting to do a play that I couldn’t get on anywhere a few years back.’ So if you’re
NEW PLAY SIX BLACK CANDLES Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, Fri 12 Mar-Sat 3 Apr
Council interceded, and it was never produced. But I hope it’ll be funny. I think that’s the main After this, he converted the narrative to novel aim, I don’t like this idea that if something is form. ‘I’d more or less forgotten about the play, entertaining, it can’t have anything to say.’ when I got this phone call from Mark Thomson, Dillon does both in conversation, so it’s a fair
bet the play will do the same. Enjoy. (Steve Cramer)
saying he wanted to do it. It was fantastic that Voodoo woman here was one of the biggest theatres in
THE QUARE FELLOW Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Tues 2-Sat 6 March and tounng
It is some 20 years since The Ouare Fellow was last staged. Set in a 1940s Dublin prison during an execution. this gritty piece about life inside has languished in the shadow of writer Brendan Behan's better known works. such as The Hostage and Borstal Boy.
Actor Sean Campion. one of the 17-strong cast. admits that he hadn't really known the text before this production. ‘I was amazed by it. because I was familiar with Behan's other work which has a sense of frivolity. In this piece there's comedy. but it's coming from a different place. It shows the humanity of the man.’ And. it is the humanity of the piece that director Kathy Burke. better known for her critically acclaimed acting career. seeks to revive. This 50th anniversary production strips away some of the lighter elements. such as song, and overly elaborate explanations that have been added in previous stagings.
“Kathy has tried to get back to the ugliness of the situation. so one minute it's funny and then it'll turn on a sixpence and become very dark.‘ explains Campion.
As warder Regan. Campion's role adds a moral dimension to the piece. Amid the tense atmosphere leading up to the hanging. it becomes increasingly apparent that he is a man in crisis. no longer able to deal with the nature of his work. And it is Regan's vocal opposition to capital punishment that brings an overtly political edge to a text written while the practice was still legal. 'It was a very explosive play to bring on to the scene at the time.‘ says Campion. ‘And it still has that strength. The dialogue he uses is very raw. It is powerfully emotional. But it doesn't cheat. it's not about pulling at strings. Capital punishment is behind us but The Qiiare Fellow still has an extraordinarily powerful punch.‘ 80 don't risk waiting another 20 years. Incidentally. 'a quare fellow' for those not familiar with Irish slang, is roughly translated as ‘an odd bloke in an odd situation“. (Corrie Mills)
. as; .7: (‘3‘ Mr
Wedding day blues NEW OPERA
FAMILY MATTERS Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 5 & Sat 6 March
If you remain attached to the old adage about a large quantity of chefs damaging the Quality of the proverbial soup. Family Matters. the latest offering from path- breaking English opera company Téte a Tete. isn't for you.
Based upon Beaumarchais' The Guilty Mother (the final part of the French author‘s fam0us trilogy, which also comprises The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro). this contemporary drama abOLit the agonies of domestic bliss includes the work of no fewer than six yOung composers. With five of the score writers making their professional opera debuts. and a minimalist ensemble of just four musicians. the London-based company (which was commissioned to develop the piece by the Battersea Arts Centre) seems set to build on its reputation for operatic innovation.
One critic reviewing its 2002 hit show Six Pack descnbed Téte a Tete as ‘certainly the most hip' opera company in Britain. lf ‘hip' and ‘opera' seem like mutually exclusive terms to yOu, consider the fact that the iiiuSical veices in Family Matters swing between jazz. tango and an tip-beat stage leSIC’dI sOund reminiscent of Sondheim. A story of the complexities of modern private life. the drama resets Beaumarchais' piece in a contemporary metropolis. Figaro is working for recently arrived high-flyers Fitzroy and Rosa. The appearance of the couple's 'friend'. Burgess. causes youngsters Flora and Leo to Question their paternity. One might be tempted to think of it as a comedy of sexual manners with songs. However. before you start Subtitling the show Whoops. I've Misplaced My Genes. bear in mind that the libretto is provided by acclaimed opera writer Amanda Holden. Presented with an Olivier Award in 2001 for services to Opera. Holden is stroneg motivated by a desire to open her art form out to a wider audience. itvlark Browni
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