Back to black

After touring the world to much acclaim, Black Watch is back in Scotland. Director John Tiffany talks to Steve Cramer about its return

ertainl} the most phenomenal success produced b_\ the Scottish theatre for a couple til. tIL‘L'iltIL‘\. (ireg Burke's H/rlt‘k IIil/(ll Ilils tra\cI|ed the world since its first appearance at the Iidinburgh I‘ringe in lotto. .\'ew York. S_\dtic‘). I.os .-\ngelcs it has become. and continues to be the Alan \Vhicker ol’ Scottish p|a_\s. .-\nd its reception has been almost unixcrsall) positiVe. In a sense. (ireg Burke's slor} is both uni\ersal and

immediate. tracking as it does. a small group of

Scottish soldiers l‘rom the regiment ol~ the title through a tour of Iraq. showing them in bawd} pla) and life threatening situations. and linall} deiohing into a tragedy But it. the earth I'iilie language keeps its constantl} in the here and now. there's also a journe} through histor} and context in the piece. with the rcgiment‘s legac_\ in British imperial IIlsIUl‘} also part of its immensel} theatrical action.

.-\sked what it is about this National 'I‘heatrc of

Scotland success stor_\ that makes it lraxel so well. director John 'I‘il'l‘any has a couple of esplanations: "I‘he first thing is. whether it be Iraq itsell‘. or the Middle I‘ittsl. tit' Ifasl meets \Yesl. it‘s certainl} a slot} of our time. So it's a con\crsation that ex'eryone wanted to engage with. It was interesting to go to New '/.ealand. in fact. because that was the tirst place we‘d been that hadn't sent soldiers to Iraq. But it was full of Scots. so it went down well with them as w ell.‘

He adds: ‘The other thing about it is the production l5 “m .lllsl te\t ll Uses IUl\ Ul‘ different \\‘;t}s to communicate with an audience. although it‘s got incrediny strong and precise \ernacular which (ireg reproduces brilliantly. Still. it's incredible. it wasn't

86 THE LIST a” Mam-‘5 At"

designed to tour the world. it was designed to pla} three weeks in Iidinburgh.‘

’I‘here's no doubt that while British and \Yestern troops continue to ser\c abroad. the pla} could continue to run. Yet ’I'il‘l‘an} seems a little uncoml'ortable about this suggestion: ‘\\'hat |.\"I'S Artistic Director] Vick) I't‘tllllel‘sliille sit}s is it's horrific how successful it is. becatise the issues are still so ali\e. But part|_\ because of that. I'm not sure how long I want it to go on for. \Ve'rc going back to New York this .-\utumn. but after that I'm not sure I want it to go much further. exen though I think there‘d be an audience. I don’t want it to be ,lltummr .Illtl.‘

Shortl}. this production will. in a sense. find its wa} home. for in what looks like the beginning ol its last Scottish tour. [flack IIillt‘ll will pla} (ilenrothes. the heartland ol‘ the regiment’s recruiting ground. In compiling the piece. (ireg Burke tised first hand accounts of soldiers returned from Iraq. and he Incorporates the slur} (ll. two soldiers killed there. "I‘Ills Is where \\ c'\e been heading sillL‘e we UPL‘IIL‘LI it.' sa_\s 'I‘il‘l‘an}. ‘.'\ lot of m} and Neil Black. the production manager’s energ} went into getting it done in I-‘il‘e. it‘s wonderful that it‘s happened.

‘.-\ monument to the two biws whose stor_\ we tell has just been erected in (ilenrothes; the) were lrom the town. We changed the names. because we didn‘t want to drag their families into it. but the stor} of how the} died is lactuall} Iotall} accurate.‘

Rothes Hall, Glenrothes, Thu 27 Mar-Sat 5 Apr, then touring.

# The Unconquered Muriel Romanes' production sees a recast version of the 2007 CATS Best New Writing Award winner triumph once again. The story of a dysfunctional tamin amidst a British revolution, the piece represents a radical departure from aesthetic tradition as well as an angry contemplation of colonialism, this time in an English context. See review. page 90. Dundee Rep, Thu 3-Sat 5 Apr.

# Vanity Fair Tony Cownie‘s take on Declan Donnellan's adaptation of Thackeray's novel is an explosion of colour brought to the stage. Thought provoking and beautifully performed. this piece shows a rapacious society whose historical parallels to our own are striking. See review, page 90. Royal Lyceum Theatre. Edinburgh, until Sat 7 2 Apr.

* Romeo and Juliet Lovesick teens and tragedy from Dundee Rep. in this slightly more detached version by James Brining. A contemporary remaking of an old classic. this piece is well performed and ultimately moving. See review. page 90. Dundee Rep, until Sat 29 Mar.

# Black Watch Here. returning after an extensive and ongoing world tour. Greg Burke's story of the travails of a squad of soldiers touring Iraq looks set to thrill again. See preview. left. Fiothes Hall, Glenrothes, Thu 27 Mar-Sat 5 Apr. Then touring.

* Cirque Du Soleil The Canadian circus troupe with a distinctly modern, storytelling approach to their work are back, with a new show featuring acrobats, trapeze, and physical theatre to die for. See preview, page 88. SECC. Glasgow, Wed 9-Thu 10 Apr.