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There aren’t many people unwilling to offer an opinion on the ethics of contemporary tabloid journalism these days, and even fewer who’ll mount a defence of the profession. Curious it is, then, that the red tops sell so many copies. Does, as is suggested by one of the characters in Steve Thompson’s satire, the public get the newspapers it deserves, or do these publications create their own corrupt and depraved markets, inducing a taste for the seedy and salacious among their readerships by sheer repetition? Michael Emans’ production comes to no easy solutions.

In it, a tired, drny witty old revise sub (Peter Kelly), whose taciturnity on the subject of his broken marriage is very much in character, witnesses the competition between two alpha male hacks. The older of these, Lister (George Drennan), is a red in tooth and claw old school reporter, hiding a bruised class warrior beneath his truculent masque. The laddish night editor Bas (Ewan Donald), buoyed by a recent promotion and sheer ego, isn’t averse to a bit of conflict with him. A story about a TV presenter, accompanied by a semi-clad picture, becomes the source of a race against deadlines, and the fact that the chic but emotionally frail (after an encounter with Bas) legal advisor (Shonagh Price) is a personal friend of the lady in question, complicates matters beyond endurance.

The piece is really an old fashioned thriller, with some nice comedy moments, disguised as a contemporary state of the nation satire. Damages has little you haven’t already heard to say about the newspaper business, but for all that, it turns on a neat structure and produces some solid and engaging entertainment. In front of Lynn McAndrew’s functional naturalistic set there are some nice performances, especially Drennan’s hard as nails Scot in the metropolis and Price‘s paradoxically forensic and emotionally labile career woman. But there is also an archness to this production that detracts a bit from comedy that might emerge more clearly with naturalistic, rather than heightened, playing. All the same, it’s worth a watch. (Steve Cramer)

78 THE LIST r"> 2)“; Out With



Seen at Paisley Arts Centre, touring

Irish plays about the troubles are ten a penny. but 7:84 theatre company has timeliness on its side wrth this professional debut by Andrew Doyle. Responding to the apparent end of the IRAs love affair wrth the gun. Doyle considers the impact of the bigger world of politics on the domestic lives of Sean. a republican sympathiser. and his brother Ciaran. the bookish. pacifist type.

lheirs is the bordeiland between north and south. violence and peace. the familiar and the unknown. It's easier for Sean to do menial tasks for the IRA. believing himself to be part of a romantic cause. than face up to the l‘(:£i|ll‘,' of a world in which the old confrontational values and nationalist rhetoric count for little.

When Ciaran bungles one of Sean's more pointless chores and the two go into hiding. it's hard to know what they're running from »- not least because a far more scary and even less rational serial killer is on the loose.

If the contours of Doyle's play are flattened by wordiness. his arguments are given tremendous justice by actors Richard On and Michael Condron in l oren/o Mele's absorbing production. the subtlety and focus of their performances help create an assured debut from a playwright Willi great promise. (Mark fisher)

SCOI l'lSll Pill Mll Rf HALF LIFE Tron, Glasgow, Thu 13—Sat 22 Oct



Gilmorehill, Glasgow, Mon 10—Wed 12; touring

A baby that lives for only nine days is a tragedy in itself but. according to dramatist Brendan Murray. a fate worse than this awaits the young who live a little longer. For the contemporary generation. the dreadful inequalities of the Thatcher/Blair state await their formative years. The decimation of the hard feiight welfare. health and education rights established for people in the post-war era mean a technocratic nightmare of school league tables. red in tooth and claw competition and no pensions guaranteed at the end of it all; God help the young.

Murray's precooous infant of the title goes through all this trauma in a very brief period. not so much a child prodigy as some other, more talented being. In accelerating a young life to an astonishing nine days. Murray shows us a kind of Vanity Fair of grotesquerie. a world in which urban wealthy trendies. sharp press agents and spin doctors rule the roost. damning the baby. just as Our own youth are damned by the hubristic spectacle of contemporary mores. Coming from Visible Fictions. who have produced quality new work for some years throughout the country. this piece looks like a much-needed diagnostic tool for our ailing culture. (Steve Cramer)

Old age seems very much the theme of the day in the Current Scottish theatre. If you're so inclined. you can follow Torn McGrath's poignant and funny reflection on the subject My Old Man. WIII) this new piece by Canadian writer John Mighton. The Ontario based writer is a leading mathematician in his own country. as well as an award winning playwright. This might seem an implausible combination. yet the higher reaches of mathematical scholarship come very close to that playground of

ideas driven drama. philosophy.

In Mighton's Possible '-."/or/ds. seen at the Tron a couple of years back. there was an exploration of subjectivity. love and the paradoXIcal boundaries of philosophy told through the Sliding Doors scenario of a chance meeting. and if this piece. on the face of it. looks quite different. it explores similar emotional territory.

In it. a couple in their 80s meet and find love in an old people's home. Both have reached a stage where memories have become uncertarrr. so whether they were actually involved in a week long emotional encounter during the Second World War remains the subject of some ambivalence. What's certainly the case is that they find a real depth of affection |.'l the present day. leaving IIlCIl' middle-aged children traumatised and somewhat hostile. Within ourselves. we're Willing to put everything else aside a r'epiioritrse for love: should others around us be Willing to do the same for our sakes? lhis, along with an exploration of subjectivity and memory are among the themes in what looks like a thoughtprovoking night of theatre. (Steve Cramer)