Shear entertainment

To use a Scottish country dancing analogy, the folk in the lowlands tend to keep their hands rigidly by their sides, while Highlanders fling their arms about with inexhaustible energy. Dogstar Theatre’s latest production appears to extend this trend to the field of dramatic performance, teaching the whole of Scotland a thing or two about the vitality and vibrancy of life up north.

Writer and director Hamish MacDonald’s piece takes us on a semi- cyclical journey through the seven ages of man, with each act based loosely on those unavoidable phases we’ll all experience: birth, discovery, love, war, wisdom, dotage and, you guessed it, death. With some stories adapted from Scottish folklore and others being fictitious situations I informed by real moments in history, we encounter, among others, the boy who invented arse-wipe, the cunning, single-limbed ‘Dan the Leg’ and a Glasgow prostitute with a big heart.

Diverse in content, the show is uniform in its quality of performance. Alyth McCormack and Matthew Zajac are both characters and storytellers, fulfilling each role with accomplished skill. Their talent is matched by that of musicians Jonny Hardie and Mary MacMaster, whose live, traditional folk soundtrack is enchanting. Touching on all of life’s ‘biggies’ such as religion I and war, the politics of the recent ‘Operation Freedom’ in Iraq touched upon here are fairly one-dimensional, focusing on the individual experience but by-passing the wider social consequences. Though sometimes sentimental and occasionally predictable, Seven Ages doesn’t pull any punches, and stands its own very nicely indeed. (Meg Watson)


I Tbunng

It's almost like watching a dance sketch show. Short segments thrown together in no particular order, with no recognisable links and varying degrees Of success. But one thing that remains constant throughout Alan Greig's new show is the high standard of performance. Equipped with six Of the best dancers he's ever worked with,

artistic director Greig has revisited nine l Of his previous creations, plucking out

, their finest moments. So we have a

I vitriolic duet from Deception, a

5 dynamic ensemble piece from Dear/y

| Departed and a beautiful solo from

Unspoken, among others. Plus the ever-welcome presence of powerful dancer David Hughes (ex-Rambert and

Finest moments


MODERN BALLET GEORGE PIPER DANCES Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Tue 9 & Wed 10 Mar

When William Trevitt and Michael Nunn said farewell to the Royal Ballet in 2000. the odds were against them. Leaving behind the security of the world's most famous ballet company to go it alone wasn't easy. But four years on. the talented dancers are riding on the crest of a very successful wave. Known from their Channel 4 video diaries as the Ballet Boyz, Trevitt and Nunn have garnered critical and public

More in the Piper line

acclaim since launching their own modern ballet company. George Piper Dances.

Not only have they attracted some fine dance talent into their fold - including Time Out award-winner, Oxana Panchenko but just look at the line-up of choreographers. William Forsythe has given them his striking duet. Approximate Sonata, /, V. and both Russell Maliphant and Christopher Wheeldon (also ex-Royal Ballet boys) have created new works for GPD's latest tour.

Broken Fa/l, Maliphant's powerful mix Of passion and violence. picked up this year's Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production. And Mesmerics. a lyrical quintet set to Philip Glass' Ce/lo Octet. sees the work of Balanchine heir apparent. Wheeldon. back in Scotland after his sensational pairing with San Francisco Ballet at last year‘s International Festival. But it‘s not only Trevitt and Nunn's talent that attracts these dancemakers it's their attitude. As Trevitt explains: ‘We don't say you've got two weeks and we need 25 minutes of dance. We say come and do something you've always wanted to do but never had the opportunity. And I think that comes across in the work. People can see that we

had a great time making it.‘ (Kelly Apter)


It's not fair on women. I if I want tO sit with a crowd Of people and shout ‘cunt', all I have to do is go to the football, where it's quite de rigeur, and indeed slightly unacceptable not to do so. I'm Sure that part of the success of Eve Ensner's Succession Of monologues is that it provides the same Opportunity for women. Collected from real women, who discuss with humour. compassion and insight their experience of their sexual and social selfhood through their experience of the Old front bottom, the piece has become a staple of the contemporary theatre over the last decade.


Gateway Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 9- Sat 13 Mar

Theatre on a beach? This is what you won't quite see at the Gateway this March. But

There are several good reasons why you might want to attend this revival. Although it's only a rehearsed reading. it'll provide you with the chance to see a wonderful cast in a small theatre. Among those donating time for this charity performance are Nicola Wheeler (Emmerda/e) and Frances Healey (The Magde/ene Sisters). There's also Nicola Burnett Smith. a Scottish theatre performer Of rare skill who we see shamefully little of in our own country. But come along, too. because the event will raise money for Glasgow NOrth West Women's Centre in Maryhill. which does much good work in both the protection Of women who are victims Of violence and its prevention where the potential exists. Don’t fanny around. get a ticket. (Steve Cramer)

this is an intriguing work in progress from the creative team that brought us Running Girl, a highlight of the 2002/3 season. Working with students of Queen Margaret University College. a bright young crop of future performers, the acclaimed Boilerhouse company will be Offering a privileged few a taster of their 2005 project. Beach. Now. obviously, it won't be on a beach. and some of the potential physicality will be limited due to this. but they’ll be exploring Gary Young's script and several

Other strands of the piece.

Artistic directOr Paul Pinson, who'll be reuniting with Young and co-director Christine Devaney from Running Girl, gives us some thought-provoking psychological

associations. ‘It's not a play about a beach,’ he says. ‘And it won't be a single story. with one strand like Running Girl. It goes through a

the original lead swan in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake).

Greig is known for his extensive use of the spoken word, as both an expository device and a way of l keeping his original scores fresh and interesting. Occasionally they threaten to suffocate the choreography, forcing us to listen to the text rather than our own emotions. But at times it works perfectly a 60-second dialogue

about Judy Garland is pure gold, while the rantings Of a chaste sister form the perfect introduction to three hilarious head-banging male nuns.

None Of which would have been possible without the company's recent increase in Scottish Arts Council funding. As a result we have a fitting tribute to 14 years of X Factor and a clear sign that the best is yet tO come. (Kelly Apter)

number of different stories about humanity itself. People come and go on beaches: they're not a place of permanence. We associate beaches with leisure and recreation. but we also associate them with invasion, since history tells us that a lot of military conquests and taking over of counties has started on beaches.‘ It'll all be there for you at the Gateway. (Steve Cramer)

' 31:3 . Life’s a beach 4—18 Mar 2004 THE LIST 71