THE MEMORY OF WATER Byre Theatre, St Andrews, Thu 15 Apr-Sat 1 May, then touring
The title of this piece, which takes its name from a concept first widely publicised in New Scientist, seems a bit too clinical, you might think, to make for great drama. But you’d be wrong, for Shelagh Stevenson’s darkly comic hit was the toast of the West End at its debut some five years back, and has since toured the world with real distinction.
Who better then to produce the ﬁrst Scottish production than Stellar Quines, still Scotland’s only women’s theatre company? For the tale is very much about women, telling as it does the story of three sisters reunited for the funeral of a mother that only one has seen for many years. Tensions escalate as each makes separate, and quite contradictory, claims for the memory of a mother that two have barely seen since childhood. Complications arise from affairs and marriages among these women in a moving, but still very funny narrative.
Now for the science, which the splendid Muriel Romanes, artistic director of Stellar Quines, can do much better than me. ‘It’s a metaphor about how we appropriate memories, which I know I do, and I think that’s true of all of us. You see the phrase “the memory of water” is a term used in homeopathy, which hasn’t been proven in science, but hasn’t been disproved. It suggests that you can remove every trace of a
she’s still there.’
REVIVAL THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 27 Apr -Sat 1 May
Those who saw Roxana Silbert's splendid production of Henry Adam‘s dark and satirical comedy in the last festival will require no encouragement from me to book their tickets
for its revival. Since then. Adam h; s sold the rights to the film to the Andrew Douglas company. a British firm which makes inowes in the US. so it might be the time to get in on the action before it transforms; to celluloid.
Adam's story Is both timely and deeply moving. telling the tale of Nigel. a half Pakistani boy whose life until the plays up is one of quiet retreat. devoting his full attention to the
giro and his X-box. But the post 9/1 1 world. of which he's almost entirely ignorant, intrudes in the form of a cop on the trail of his half brother. a suspected terrorist. The dynamics of modern communities. with their atomisation within tenement blocks. becomes the focus of the play after this. with all the warmth and humour of Adam's vision brought to bear. lan Greive takes over as director for this recast production, which holds many delights. not least of them the prospect of the splendid local actor, Mark McDonnell. as the policeman. Go see it in the flesh. or you'll have to wait years for the movie. (Steve Cramer)
Good neighbours become good friends
74 THE LIST 15 Apr 2004
curative agent from water, and the water can still retain its beneficial effects. That seems to me about genetics, and that’s what interested me about this play. We retain our genes through generations and we’re really just the sum part of our genes. My mother died 11 years ago, but I hear myself say something or look at myself in a mirror and realise that
But beyond this, the play is about grief, and the many and various strategies we employ to come to terms with it. ‘We actually brought a
Muriel Romanes: Have a good cry
bereavement counsellor in rehearsal to talk about this,’ Romanes explains. Those who have experienced the loss of close family will recognise the odd symptom of feeling untouched, even euphoric, at one moment and horribly bereft at another. ‘That’s how the play works,’ Romanes explains. ‘You can be in fits of laughter at one moment, and in tears the next. But we underrate the power of crying. It will make people cry, and that can be a wonderful thing.’ Go on, have a good greet. (Steve Cramer)
Bin down so long . . .
POLITICAL THEATRE OPERATION WONDERLAND coo
Liz Tomlin‘s production for Point Blank is something of a mixed bag. deploying as it does some genuinely challenging ideas. but not quite delivering theatrically. A much put upon and disillusioned sanitation worker for a Disneyland-style theme park (Stewart Lodge) meets one of the blue fairies (Jenny Ayres) in its employ. Encouraged by her into a series of acts of sabotage. he moves from mild nuisance to suicide bomber.
This piece has much to say about contemporary culture in the West. with ideas about surveillance and thought control. as well as the randomness with which the powers that be sift ideological sheep from goats to the forefront. Yet the combination of all this political input and a rather detached attitude to character allows us to focus on the issues. but not invest in the dilemmas of the central pair. This technique might seem the best approach. given the need to forefront ideology as a central concern, yet it also gave the piece a rather cold and surgical feel. All the same, Operation Wonder/and is an impOrtant piece of theatre, foregrounding. as it does. so many of the ideological concerns of a society beset by a materialist hegemony, that seems keen to identify enemies instead of issues. (Steve Cramer)
SCOTTISH PREMIERE ROOF
After Proof '3 meteoric success in the US and London. Michael Emans. artistic director of Rapture Theatre Company, is ready to give David Auburn's piece its Scottish debut
First produced in 2001, Proof won both a Tony and a Pulitzer before lapping up more praise when Gwyneth Paltrow took the lead under Sam Mendes' direction. Quite a start. But Emans is not too overawed. ‘I think every play you do has challenges. whether because of previous productions or because of the difficulties in the text.‘ he explains. ‘I wanted to do a
No stars, just drama
production that wasn't blurred by having a Hollywood name. I want to reclaim the play. The play stands up very much on its own. It has its own integrity.‘
Centred on Catherine. a young woman grappling with the death of her father. a renowned mathematician, Proof explores the fine line between madness and genius and forces a recognition of the madness within ourselves.
Emans' relationship with the play began three years ago when his bid for the rights lost out to Mendes' production. Finally given the chance to take on the show. he is unashamedly enthuSIastic. 'We feel it is a real sign of confidence in our theatre company.‘ says Emans. ‘I think it will play Scottish audiences a treat.‘ (Corrie Mills)