PREVIEW MUSICAL DOCTOR DOLITTLE
Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 20—Sat 31 May
With a Hollywood pedigree that includes The Happiest Millionaire. Finian's Rainbow and Half a Sixpence, Tommy Steele needs no lessons in how to turn in a charismatic lead performance in a musical. Even at the age of 71 — yes, the man who first hit the charts with ‘Rock with the Caveman' is really that old — Steele has all the showbiz charm to invigorate old favourites such as ‘If I Could Talk to the Animals'. That's even more the case when you remember Leslie Bricusse wrote the score of his 1967 musical with the sing-talking technique of Rex Harrison in
Ten years after the show transferred from the big screen to the stage. Steele is taking on the role of the multi-lingual doctor who'd rather be hanging around with a two-headed Pushmi-pullyu and chatting to parrots and pigs than treating human beings. In Bob Tomson's production. which is based on the Oscar-winning film. the animals are realised with spectacular puppets and joined on stage by a large company of singers and dancers. all helping Steele on his journey in search of the Giant Pink Sea Snail. Other hits from the show include ‘l've Never Seen Anything
Like It' and “My Friend the Doctor“. (Mark Fisher)
REVIEW NARRATIVE BALLET SCOTTISH BALLET’S
ROMEO & JULIET Theatre Royal Glasgow, Wed 4-Sat
7 Jun 0...
Big narrative ballets are filled with opulent sets and long drawn-out scenes — right? Not this time. Scottish Ballet has taken a different approach to Shakespeare's tragic love story. Gone is the 16th century palace. huge chunks of Prokofiev's score — even key characters such as the Nurse and Paris. Instead. this short. sharp take on Romeo and Juliet is two hours of intense love. hate and fashion.
Set in the 19308. 19508 and present day. the ballet has a stylish. modern feel far more accessible for younger audiences than most classical ballets. Through the use of hard-hitting backdrops. depicting war and terrorism, the story's timeless quality becomes clear. So too the idea that small, familial conflicts can lead to something far more devastating.
Choreographer Krzysztof Pastor uses hand-to-hand combat rather than fancy sword play to convey violence. And real-life tenderness between the lovers. including a post- coital spoon which Romeo tries heartbreakineg to recreate with Juliet's dead body. All of which adds to the feeling of reality — that these are ordinary human beings. Something choreography alone cannot achieve. and the Scottish Ballet dancers have risen to the challenge admirably.
From the tightly synchronised ensemble routines to the emotional pas de deux. Pastor's choreography flows like water. Were it not for some cluttered staging, Scottish Ballet would have the perfect tragedy on their hands. (Kelly Apter)
Brian Pettifer, Benny Young and Brian Ferguson in The Drawer Boy
REVIEW SCOTTISH PREMIERE THE DRAWER BOY Tron, Glasgow, until Sat 24 May 0000
All of us live by personal myths; stories we tell ourselves about our own past actions that justify the present. It seems easy enough to uncover these in others, but much harder to identify our own subjective narratives about our characters and actions. In Michael Healey’s play, a semi-biographical account of an encounter between a young actor and two ageing farmers in rural Canada, these gentle self deceptions, occurring in greater or lesser degrees of overtness, are explored in three memorable characters.
It’s the early 19705, and Miles (Brian Ferguson) is a member of a trendy theatre collective who winds up on the front porch of Morgan (Benny Young) and Angus (Brian Pettifer), two men whose last significant encounter with the world was the war and to whom the 60$ simply hasn’t happened. The taciturn Morgan sets Miles to work on the farm in return for allowing the actor to observe agricultural life at first hand, thus to contribute to an improvised play. Meanwhile Angus, a man left with mental disability and no short-
term memory, ostensibly the result of a war wound, draws close to the young newcomer. But is the semi- folk tale with romantic overtones that Morgan repeatedly tells him the real reason why these men exist as they do?
Andy Arnold’s debut as the Tron’s artistic director in front of Hazel Blue’s nicely observed ramshackle cabin set is a quiet triumph of psychological observation with a twist of warm humour before its crisis. There’s a touch of Bill Forsyth’s Local Hero in the cultural clash between city and country, while the tender care of Morgan for Angus through all their rural poverty creates an inevitable parallel with Of Mice and Men. The ideas under Healey’s play aren’t especially complex, but its central question about the value of self deception recurs ingeniously through a brilliantly structured text, all this brought out to advantage by three splendid performances. It seems invidious to pick out any one of the actors, though Young’s laconic farmer is truly splendid, pulling dry humour and deep reserves of emotion from his apparently stolid and undemonstrative character with real guile and subtlety. Recommended. (Steve Cramer)
22 May—5 Jun 2008 THE LIST 89