‘PEOPLE SAY IT'S A VERY SAD
PLAY BUT IT'S NOT HARD TO
FIND THE HUMOUR’
// l/ Irv
Steve Cramer talks to director Jemima Levick about dysfunctional families, comedy and Tennessee Williams
ou’y'e got to hand it to the Lyceum. They
seemed so aware of the mood of their
audience in programming The ll'imnl of U: in the run-up to ('hristmas. a time when many people experience that longing for reunion with the
family that runs through the play. By this time of year. however. there are tindouhtedly members of
the average audience who have had all that sentiment dispelled and who‘y'e heen freshly reminded of just what an ordeal spending sey‘eral days with parents and siblings can he. So why not stage that epic of dysfunctional family drama. The (I‘luxy .‘It’lltlllc't‘l'l't’f
And in giy'ing Jemima l.ey'ick. one of the brightest young directorial talents in Scotland. the job of taking on Tennessee Williams’ first real commercial hit. Mark 'l‘homs'on‘s company have shown characteristic say'y'y beyond the programming. Levick‘s take on this family drama. driy'en hy the memories of an errant son of his eccentric. intensely demanding mother and reclusiy‘e sister. cuts straight to the drama. and the Ol‘lll‘cssiy‘e air of families w ho‘ye come to know each other's weaknesses too well.
‘There's this assumption that hecause people are family you should understand them. But why should we understand them'.’ They ‘re family. they 're just kind of there.‘ Lexick says. For her. the family at the centre. plagued with guilt. jealousy and resentment. acts in a manner that we might see at the worst moments among our own kin.
‘A lot of the time it's things that you completely get. maybe your family isn't exactly the same. but still . . . There's one scene where Tom has this huge row with his mother. and the next scene he wakes tip with this
wicked hangover how many of us hay e been there'.’ And the mother. Amanda. is so ridiculous. she‘s ridiculous men in her terms. so you need to find a way to stop the audience from saying. "(iod. if I was Tom. the son. I‘d he right otit of theref"
The relieving factor. when we reflect on such matters is their potential for humour. and l.eyick is keen to exploit the comedy which often goes unnoticed in Williams' modern classic. ‘l’eople say it‘s a wry sad play. and it is there‘s a good chance you'll end up crying. htit there are situations in it which are also ridiculous; it's also a wry funny play. potentially. and people tend to forget that. You can easily play it as tragedy. tragedy. tragedy. hut it's not hard to lind the humour.‘ l.e\'ick says.
There are many possihle interpretations of the play. Many see it as Williams' most biographical. with readings often running along lines that seek to explore his relationship with his mother. as well as his gay sexuality. Another way of seeing the play is its treatment of the American Dream and the disillusionment this created in the 30s. the period in which the play is set. l.ey ick. though. sees the play as essentially about the family at the centre.
"Theres plenty of context. there‘s the Depression. and great world exhihition. Someone asked me about the American Dream in the play the other day. and that's all there. htit who cares. on one ley'el. I see this family on stage and they‘re absolutely tearing each other apart » that‘s drama. and if I was a member of the audience. that‘s what I‘d he interested in.‘
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 1 1 Jan-Sat 9 Feb.
THE BEST THEATRE & DANCE
ill Sleeping Beauty Tony Cownie's version of this well- known tale has bags of comedy. wicked witches and sweet sentimental love stories. Everything you need to make a great panto. and then some. King's Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 12 Jan.
'l' The Glass Menagerie Tennessee Williams' modern classic at the Lyceum looks like a good restart for post-panto theatre. Jemima Levick's production sees the clash of family as the central theme. but expect some comedy on the way to its sad denouement. See preview. left. Ftoyal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 11 Jan—Sat 9 Feb.
Ill Jack and the Beanstalk Dundee Rep‘s take on the boy with the magic beans features a brilliantly realised giant's castle amidst all the fun. Look out for strong performances from Keith Fleming and John Buick, to name but two. Dundee Rep, until Sat 5 Jan.
I! Eetlng Beauty This year's alternative panto from the Tron has our Beauty cursed with 100 years of eating as soon as she reaches the tender age of 18. Her prince isn't of much help though, as he falls in love with a pig. Singalongs and sweeties are the order of the day in another splendid effort from the Tron. Tron Theatre, Glasgow. until Sun 6 Jan.
see page 19 for details
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