MODERN BALLET SCOTTISH BALLET .0000 Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Wed 14-Sat 17 April
When Ashley Page unveiled his new look company last autumn, it was in pretty good shape. Then, in December, when the artistic director staged his captivating Nutcracker, the dancers looked even better. Four months and a great deal of hard work later, the difference is even more striking. The revamped Scottish Ballet is not just good, it’s world class - and the company’s spring programme showcases that talent in all its diverse beauty.
The show opens with George Balanchine’s technically challenging Four Temperaments, a work no dancer can hide behind. It’s replete with taut leg extensions and tight symmetry,so if you haven’t got the skill it just won’t work. But, with very few exceptions, the dancers rise to the challenge. Peter Darrell’s Four Ruckert Songs pulls the performers in a more lyrical, expressive direction, especially the lead female role, which requires a deep emotional angst. Page himself contributes three works, each more adrenalin-fuelled than the last. Originally choreographed for the Royal Ballet, the works demand fast, controlled dancing set to a series of pulsating scores, and once again the dancers deliver.
It’s beautifully lit, but with little else to distract us in terms of set or costume, Page has put his dancers out front and centre. And they’re a sight
to behold. (Kelly Apter)
CLASSIC A DOLL’S HOUSE Touring 0000
The media outcry over recent studies revealing that young females. particularly in Scotland. are drinking to excess. is very telling. Despite exposing that we like to get pissed more than perhaps is good for us. the frenzy suggests a fundamental sexism creeping under the surface. With the common assumption that gender wars are safely left in the past. now and again situations such as these oc0ur in which the double standards need hardly be pointed out. So if you think lbsen‘s dlassic has had its day. think again.
The story of Nora (Rebecca Rodgers) as the doll-like wife of dominant male Towald (Stephen Hogan) is here played by theatre babel in the original period setting. Blackmailed by bitter young lawyer Krogstad (Stephen Clyde). Nora learns that what she has done for her husband might destroy the very foundations of their life together.
Peter McAllister's. production is an amalgamation of translations and adaptations. resulting in a recognisable and faithful interpretation. Nora's tarantella dance and the climactic ending, break away from the realism
with dramatic techniques that drive home the Symbolism. Kai Fischer's naturalistic Victorian living room set serves its purpose well. and with the characters seated on chairs upstage when not in the scene. the idea of Nora's inexorable fate is omnipresent. Rodgers' childishly passive Nora and Hogan's performance as the self- obsessed Torvald are particularly effective. We might not be able to escape gender inequality. but this striking production of what has become know as a feminist classic identifies the need. at least. to be aware of its presence. (Meg Watsoni
World class ballet
POPULAR THEATRE THE WOMAN WHO COOKED HER HUSBAND coo
vengeance is wrought.
Tony Cownie’s production, which incorporates plenty of the gorgeous sight gags and physical humour of this director's work. adds vigour and vim to the script. saving it from some of its more outmoded moments of gender politics. Smith is strong of voice. opening with a compelling rendition of “My Man' which at times recalls Lady Day herself. while Gray takes on his disagreeable character with deft physicality. A subtly crafted performance from Price sets off the evening nicely. Potentially this piece could be seen as moralistic and rather old-fashioned. but the whoops of laughter from a receptive audience at Edinburgh's King's. are testament to the smarts of the professionals involved. (Steve Cramer)
I suppose we could say that anything that oversimplifies the complex business of gender identity. be it about women or men. is sexist. By this definition we'd have to say that Debbie lsitt‘s early 903' foray into the eternal triangle might be found guilty as charged. For the representation of Andy Gray's errant husband — boorish. self-interested and insensitive — is pretty unreconstructed on the author's pan. He starts an affair with a younger woman (Shonagh Price). which. after much comic concealment. is revealed to his wife of 19 years (Elaine C Smith). Three years later, after the affair turns into marriage. a terrible
MODERN COMEDY THE KERRY MATCHMAKER Touring, 000
Popular Irish plays/right John B Keane's play takes a mostly light and jolly approach to the underlying fear of loneliness amongst an older. rural 1950s lrish community.
DKIK‘, Mex Dek‘, O'Crr‘no" Jami?) Chzsl‘o'm is the unof‘cal 'i‘atcltn‘aker for h s surround r‘g area. Through a series of eiters. "eazl and performed by Ch'shoih‘ and Una lvl<;L.<‘.-ar‘. in a number 0‘ roles. we arc- '7?"()(‘ltl(l(}d to array of characters on tne cokcut for love. including the unsuspecting Cupid himself.
Michael Scott meets the experienced twosome. whose relaxed demeanours on stage altos; ‘or a ‘ew s? c-ups to be well handled. with the audience well on their side. The letter narratae gets a little monotonous. kept afloat by the vibrancy of the acting ar‘d some entertanir‘g characters. The Fast Show-esque landed gent Claud Glynn Hunter's penchant ‘or boys .s perhaps a bit close to the bone in the current paedcphuia-parahc :1 times. but nevertheless is pretty funny. As are the various sexual references; :2hrch. coming from an older generation. become a heart-warming ren‘inder that en'enone does indeed do it. An overall light-hearted. if a little predictable. exploration of the quest fOr COupIedom. (Meg Watson)
MODERN AMA THE STRAITS coco Tron Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 17 Apr
As Tony Blair's imperial adventure in Iraq turns into a bloody morass. Gregory Burke's Falklands \‘Jar drama seems increasingly relevant. Viewing the conflict through the eyes of Br.t:sh tee"ag.}ers immersed in the militarised environment of Gibraltar. the play i‘.'.’lll(3ll premered at l'iG Traverse Theatre during last year's Edinburgh Fringe. is centred on two particular disasters of war.
The historsca; exents become inextricably intermingled with the distorted adolescence of the k:.;ls. The strength of Burke's writing (aside from his astute decrsion to write a nee, :lif‘ereiit play from his smash hit maiden drama Gaga/xvi Wayi lies in its combinatcn of the familiar and the strange. The playground bullying. the teenage rites of passage and the agonised sexual awakenings are universally recognisab'e. Add tine nasty ethnic battles with the Spanish Gibraltarians and lives steeped in one-din‘ens onal. triun‘phalist military history, however. and things become altogether n‘ore ren'ea'ing.
John Tiffany 's f:r‘e tOuring production for Paiv‘es Plough. retaii‘s only the excellent young actor James Marchant 'Do:nk; from Its origna‘ cast of four. He has found strong replacements ‘or the other roles. l‘.e'-.'.'e\.'er. not least Pete" McN che" (Darren. unliose transformation from painful (liffrtieitce 1c woler‘t. xerx:p"‘:>l).<: mach-sine reveals an almost gothic duality :n Burke's script. -» -. (Mark Browni Str
15—29 Apr 2004 THE LIST 75