PEOPLE SHOW 1 15: PLAY DEAD
Arches, Glasgow, Fri 7—Sat 8
As any England football fan will tell you repeatedly, 1966 was a long time ago, something that makes the People Show one of theatre’s odder survivors. In that year, the late, lamented Jeff Nuttall, jazz nut, performance artist and so much more, threw together a group of like-minded individuals with the aim of shaking things - anything - up.
The People Show supported Pink Floyd, established itself in the basement of Better Books in London’s Charing Cross Road and then at the Drury Lane Arts Lab, run by Traverse founder Jim Haynes. But the company’s real home was on the road, setting up shop in the forecourts of factories or, on one famous occasion, infiltrating a hotel and dropping hints that a murder had taken place; the eventual arrival of the police became part of the performance. In the days when Edinburgh’s Rose Street was still a red light district, the group risked the pimps’ wrath by playing out in the local boozers a drama about marital inﬁdelity. Once, the audience was coached from London to Brighton and taken to the beach; the show’s climax involved a huge inflatable boxing ring being towed out to sea.
theatre should have seen members of the People Show burn themselves out or self-destruct, like so many other companies born in the atmosphere of 60s radicalism. Instead they have clocked up shows for four decades with almost metronomic efficiency, numbering each as they go. The secret of such longevity? A refusal to be tied to any single style of performance, set of performers or subject matter. I doubt even the contestants of Round Britain Quiz could find the connection between Greek tragedy, Iaunderettes, the last three seconds
Nuttal’s legacy lives on
of the life of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, domestic accidents, and Harry Houdini. In each of them, however, the company has found inspiration.
All of which makes People Show 115: Play Dead a nightmare to preview, except to say that cowboys and their mythical baggage are the subject, and that fake moustaches, lawlessness and a liberal splattering of tomato ketchup are promised. Beyond that, frankly, you’re on your own. And that’s exactly the way Jeff Nuttall would have wanted it.
By rights, this brand of guerrilla
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 13-Sat 15 May
The role of history in the construction of identity is a subject which has often preoccupied the Irish writer; the inseparable nature of politics and religion rendering the exploration of faith and identity all the more pertinent. Protestants by Robert Welch, produced by Belfast-based Ransom Productions. is a one-man show which explores the concept of Protestant liberty and its impact on Western philosophy. Devoid of a linear plot or specific setting. it reaches back to Elizabethan times and forward into the contemporary moment. followmg one man's journey towards an understanding of his relationship With God and with himself.
The connection between religion and sectarianism in Ireland warns of latent associations with loyalism; an implication that director Rachel O'Riordan is quick to refute. 'This is not a play about NOrthern Ireland. It is simply an exploration of certain historical or personal moments that are contained in a spirit of Protestantism. Part of the interesting thing is reinventing the word: it's about "protest"-ants". not Protestants.‘ she says.
‘We are all looking for ways in which to communicate With God or a higher power. Ultimately it comes down to being yourself and being an indIVidual — which in itself is an incredibly Protestant thing' Actor Paul Hickey plays all seven characters. from Elizabeth I to a Rangers Supporter. If the Success of last year's Wider acclaimed one-man show Hurricane is anything to go by. this promises to be an energetic and challenging piece of phySIcal theatre. (Andrea Harkin)
Ian Paisley arts centre
70 THE LIST 7‘.) Apr III May 7004
THEATRE: WITH PUPPE TRY
COMPANY CHORDELIA Paisley Arts Centre, Fri 30 Apr-Sat 1 May, then touring.
It's a year after Saturday Night Divas first brought a smile to the faces of Scottish audiences. and choreographer Kally Lloyd- Jr>nes is ready to give her piece a second outing. Followmg the hijinks of a girls' night out. this show is not simply about sunshine. good times and the boogie. Lloyd-Jones imaginative use of life- si/ed rag dolls to represent men raises the question — what would the world be like if women were the stronger sex? 'Guys seem to get all the fun things to do.” says Lloyd Jones. 'Women have less physical strength and it changes our View of the world. It changes our sense of independence. this is a fun piece about. let's say. girl power but it also looks at the way that our sex imprints on our Iives.‘
Newly added to the show is title piece Play On. a behind the scenes look at a band of touring performers sharing the slight madness that is small scale theatre production. Comedy is a consistent element throughout Lloyd-Jones work. but what is if that makes her always seek the funny side? 'I never really thought I'd do humour. It doesn't even feel like a choice. It's just what seems to happen to me. Partly because I enjoy it so and because I want to make work that anyone can come to and have a really good time.' (Corrie Mills)
Girls just want to have punch
LIFE’S HARD! Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 7 May, then touring
‘It‘s going to be a musical riot. says Stephen Deazley. artistic director of newly formed band Music at the Brewhouse. In his third collaboration with leading Russian physical theatre company, Do Theatre. Deazley plunges us into the history of Glasgow‘s undenNond.
When Deazley came across journalist Robert Jeffrey's crime history, Glasgow's Hard Men, he was fascinated, finding resonances within his own NOrthern Irish culture. The final piece. Life '3 Hard. may be of Scottish SUbjeCt. but it is also a universal
Do the time
exploration of the way communities approach crime in terms of humour. Very much the driving force behind this project. Deazley saw this as the perfect opportunity to work with Do Theatre again. ‘The type of theatre that Do Theatre creates really lends itself to this work. to its slightly darker nature. They are not afraid to plumb the depths a little bit.'
This. however, is not a bleak show. Deazley promises cheek. irreverence and satire bound together by a 13- strong band of mu5icians whose styles are as eclectic as the line-up of Scots miscreants on stage. 'I wanted to create a cabaret form because this gives us a chance to look at challenging material in an entertaining way.' he says. So go on. Enjoy the riot. (Come Mills)