James Brining: Visions of heaven and hell

According to director James Brining, there’s more to David Kane’s legendary popular comedy, Dumbstruck, than might be suggested at first sight. There are even elements of Hitchcock, he tells Steve Cramer.

here's something likeable about James

Brining. Strangely. I've never got to know him

well over the near decade since he arrived in Scotland. yet each time we've spoken. I’ve walked away from the conversation knowing he's a nice guy. It was only the last titne we spoke that I realised the quality that he had which rendered him so endearing. Aside from a very equable manner. Brining is a very open kind of guy. He's simply very honest.

So when I came in with a two-footed sliding tackle of a question about l)l(HI/).\'Il'l(('k. Dundee Rep‘s revival of David Kane’s popttlar comedy. his response was not only honest. but made me wish to see the play far more than I had when I asked the question. I suggested that this play was a banker. an attempt to fill houses at the Rep to counterbalance its following piece. Scenes From (III Iftt'r'llliml. Howard Barker‘s marvellous drama. which nevertheless is often seen as box office poison.

‘chf he says. ‘We're suring ourselves tip against failure at the box office. It doesn‘t have enormous depth as a play: it overtly sets out to give an audience a good night out. But an audience .v/Irm/r/ have a good time. and that‘s important. It’s also a brilliantly written play. a real box of fireworks. So it’s not just a banker we can throw on any old way because it’s funny and people like it. It’s something we are still putting on with the highest production standards we can.’

Kane's script. first produced to uproarious popular success at the Tron in IOU-1. certainly has a nostalgic appeal to it. Set in an old luvvie boarding house in the grand old days of variety. it centres on a wannabe




Bobby Darren figure. surrounded by various oddball singers. dancers comedians and magicians from the circuit. Things take a slightly dark turn when these folk are visited by an inspector from the Buroo. There's a suggestion of the Sir Stafford (‘ripps figure visiting the happy anarchists of an lialing comedy to all this.

But Brining maintains that there‘s also a twist of

thriller. even comparing the piece to I’.\'_\'(‘/Ir). ‘lt’s quite camp in places. and people cross dress. Also there’s these people living in an isolated place. in a Name. heightened environment. It might sound a bit pretentious. but there's a real element of the gothic to the way the play cranks itself tip. and mystery and revelation is an essential part of the story. And this heaven and hell thing of upstairs and basement and people being buried under fitmrboards really runs through it.’

So there's more to Dam/mma'k than meets the eye. and Brining's spirited defence makes both Neil Warmington's design 7 a visual feast from the sound of things and the ensemble cast at Dundee seem ideal for the piece. But also. why shouldn‘t Dundee have popular theatre'.’ ‘You‘ve got to remember that Dundee Rep is the only theatre of its kind in the city. It's not like lidinburgh or (ilas‘gow where a broad range of tastes can be catered for by different theatres. so we want to bring a sense of balance to our programme.’ says Brining. l‘air enough. And it sounds like there’ll be no shortage of entertainment here. whatever your taste.

Dumbstruck runs from Sat 20 Mar-Sat 17 Apr at Dundee Rep.

Re: Tread/mg the Boards

THE LONG TRADITION OF moving from text to the body in the British theatre process is one that has been challenged over the last couple of decades, but it still remains the predominant mode of preparation within our professional theatre world. All the same, physical theatre has now established itself as an increasingly accepted mode of performance. Professionals interested in exploring this element of their work have a great opportunity to do so at the Gateway in July. Those clever old Iuvvies at Queen Margaret University College’s drama department have procured the services of David Glass, one of Britain’s - and the world’s - most influential physical theatre performers and teachers, for a workshop programme from Sunday 4th to Saturday 10th July. This will provide opportunities to explore a broad range of physical skills and creative practices from a diverse range of disciplines. Just to catch in person the man who has just developed a new school of creative development in Cambodia might be enough for many performers. In any case, you can enquire or book by phoning 0131 317 3900. You can also e-mail with any enquiries.

OF COURSE. Pt'tYSICAUTY doesn't preclude interacv. as the reappearance of Eng,;iand's Re< Shrft company on tour wah two dates {Thursday 18th and Friday 19th March; at North Edinburgh Arts Centre proves. They're rev/wing their old ange mt. Ba/tieby. an adaptatton of Herman Melvstle's story of a Walt Street cterk who creates anarchy one day by svnply stopping the hard work he's been dorng at his faceless. rertyeng office. What yoo mrgbt cat: a trag: farce. ihlS tight httle production rs; welt worth a watch.

Red Shift’s Bartelby