NEW WORK THE NEST coo
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sun 2 May, then touring
Feeling your bothy
The post-Romantic catastrophe is waiting to happen. Well, perhaps it is, if you persist in tramping the countryside, getting caught in storms and sheltering in bothies. In Alan Wilkins’ first major play, tension awaits a couple at the burnt-out dog end of a marriage blighted by infidelity and mistrust in just such a context, and a group of accidental companions become unwilling witnesses.
Colin (Matthew Pidgeon) and Helen (Candida Benson) have rechanneled the pain of marital strife into a five year programme of Munro bagging. Every Munro in Scotland has been climbed but this, their last, and there’s a patent sense of fin de siecle to their marriage as well. As the weather outside their hut, which clings to the side of a mountain, worsens, they’re joined by Mac (Lewis Howden) a fitness fanatic with, literally and metaphorically, a lot of baggage, and Jackie (Claire Yuille) a city photographer lost and well out of her element. An eccentric old man in danger of being caught in the storm, and out on a grisly mission from his past (Finlay Welsh) completes a tense and atmospheric
If there’s a little touch of overwriting in Wilkins’ script here and there - perhaps the result of a first- time author’s desire to say a little too much in one piece - he is nevertheless a writer of formidable potential. Lorne Campbell’s production exploits Wilkins’ obvious talents with character and atmosphere well, and if the tension is ratcheted up a little too early, the piece manages to maintain its sense of intrigue throughout. The business of burial (almost everyone finds something to bury) metaphorises the repressions that preoccupy the characters, yet sometimes burial, here, as in psychology, can result in forms of liberation. But whether people are improved in freeing themselves from the need to trust is not a question the play seeks to answer. The cast work strongly together, with an outstanding performance by Howden as an apparently common sense figure whose demons are only elliptically alluded to in a an all-round good ensemble. Not a perfect piece this, but still
compelling. (Steve Cramer)
NEW WORK MANDRAGORA: KING OF INDIA
Current negative attitudes towards asylum seekers might be explained by this play and its recognition of notions of the ‘exotic’. Although here the 'exotic' is Indian and anlish culture. it could be any culture that we don't understand. But Tara Arts attempts to break through this discourse, fusing English and Indian theatrical traditions to explore the origins of the two nations' relations.
In a fantastical India of old. gnevrng King Mandragora iAntony Bunseei soon has other things to worry about when a tribe of 'chalky whites' arrives. They're led by 1 out Hastings lJames BOHOl'Illb and there's a conflict of interests as greed. love. a soothsayer and some mischievous characters prevent
an agreeable relationship between the peoples.
Written by Nii'iay Mahindru and directed by Jatinder Verma. Mi'r/idr‘agora is far from a one- sided. political commentary White and Asian actors play numerous roles. deconstructing racial stereotypes in a manner reminiscent of Caryl Churchill's treatment of gender in C/oud Nine. Shakespeare style verse and scenes int(->rmingle with the expressive mythology of Indian theatre. In Claudia Mayer's set. bare aside from a proscenium arch facade. the six strong cast use inventive pliysicalisation. attracting the eye when the wordiness gets too much. A demonstration that appropriation from different cultures can be truly great. proVided it's achieved through a process of enlightenment and not through arrogant i)ieconcei)tions.
THE FULL MONTY .00 Edinburgh Playhouse, Tue 20 Apr-Sat 1 May
When women were busy celebrating greater eguality in the workplace. unemployed men the country over were contemplating throWing themselves off the nearest bridge. Jack O'Brien's musical comedy. set in New York. is located in an era of malediscontent which, in many ways. subverts traditional perceptions of the gender war.
Six unemployed steel workers are forced to confront their failure in the brea<l~winning department. When male strippers come to town and woo the local female population. .Jerry Liikowski a divorcee lather who is lighting for custody of his son
decides to team up With his fellow jobseekers and put on a strip show With “real men' las opposed to (Shippeiidalesi as a guick fix solution to their money worries.
Tim Rogers. Doesn’t everyone?
though humorous and sometimes touching, it feels too long and the Vital comic subtlety in the film version here feels dated: the celebration of ‘women who work' and gay men coming out are has been scenarios. there are some quality chuckle worthy moments: a black man misleadineg nicknamed Horse lyrically confronts his (ll‘iXl(}l\ over the si/e of his penis; and [)(t\.'l(l Ya/bek's score is bawdy energetic and tender in the right places. Not exactly soul stirring stuff. nor hilarious. nor Visually spectacular. but its satisfying light entertainment with an emotionally engaging. character based through line. (Andrea Harkinl
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