PREVIEW REVIVAL DOUBT: A PARABLE Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 1–Sat 5 Jun

As extensive allegations of child abuse within the Catholic Church continue to simmer in the headlines, Theatre Jezebel is set to challenge audiences with a portrayal of accusation that is altogether more troubling in its ambiguity. John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Doubt: A Parable sets a rigidly traditional nun and principal of the church school against a progressive parish priest in a fierce battle of wills and suspicion and as allegations are laid down, the gap between certainty and doubt is blurred and individual interpretation creates a production unique to each audience member. Set in New York in 1964, a year after

Kennedy’s assassination, the plot touches on race and gender issues that are obviously still relevant to a modern audience. The position of the nuns within the patriarchal systems of the church is a theme that director Mary McCluskey is particularly keen to bring to the fore. ‘Women don’t get the opportunity that often to have these meaty parts and to go on those emotional journeys with the characters. We’re seeking to find plays that fit that role and this is certainly one of them.’ McCluskey would be ‘most pleased’ if this skillfully emotive piece of theatre ‘caused great arguments in the bar afterwards’ and it will, no doubt, do just that. (Amy Russell)



All those who have read the book, seen the play and/or watched the film will know that Dangerous Liaisons contains a hell of a lot of shenanigans. On paper, keeping track of who’s jumping into bed with who or at least trying to can be tricky. So how do you translate that to dance, where explaining with words is not an option? For David Nixon, artistic director of Northern Ballet Theatre, creating a clear narrative has been an ongoing challenge since he first choreographed his ballet in 1996. ‘It has gone through so many manifestations,’ he says. ‘But it was never really the choreography that changed, it was always about the clarity of the story. At first, I used an actress as a narrator, but that really broke up the piece, and was only there because I was a bit insecure and didn’t trust that what the dancers were doing on stage would clarify things.’

With the narrator a thing of the past, Nixon now relies solely on the superb dancers in his company to get the message across made all the more easy by their mix of technical dance prowess and strong acting ability. But as Nixon says, to enjoy Dangerous Liaisons in all its forms, we don’t need to grasp every complex detail.

‘So many stories can be appreciated on many levels,

and to have a good time do you really need to understand all those levels?’ he says. ‘With this story, it’s about the characterisation, especially the Valmont and Marquise characters and what predatorial creatures they are, using sex to prey on people, while the others are pawns that are simply played with. And I think in dance that comes out very clearly.’ For music, Nixon cast around for composers working

at the same time as Pierre Choderlos de Laclos was writing his 18th century novel, Les Liaisons dangereuses and came up with Vivaldi. ‘The Four Seasons are very moody,’ explains Nixon. ‘You get turbulence, you get pleasantry, you get fun so all the moods of the show are there in the music.’ (Kelly Apter)

PREVIEW NEW PLAY COCONUT BADGER Admiral Bar, Glasgow, Thu 3 & Fri 4 Jun

The story of how Glasgow writer Mark MacNicol mounted a production of his first play, with no budget and no support, is an inspiration for anyone who has tried to break into the arts and been frustrated. MacNicol originally tried pitching Coconut Badger (an adaptation of his own novel about a young man from a housing scheme who ends up being mentored by an ageing psychopath) to several theatres, and, while the response was generally positive, he was repeatedly turned down for a commission. ‘That was the point where I thought, “Well, I could just keep going or I could let it

die on my hard drive”,’ he says. ‘But I had a lot of enthusiasm for the project so I decided to have a go at producing and directing it on my own.’ Armed with nothing more than self-belief MacNicol set about finding a venue for the play (Glasgow’s Admiral Bar) and recruited his cast through Facebook and his online blog. Through networking he secured free audition and rehearsal space, and when those options weren’t available the cast rehearsed in his auntie’s front room. In these cash-strapped times MacNicol exemplifies the spirit of DIY theatre that

informed the Tron’s recent Mayfesto season. And, despite the setbacks, MacNicol is determined to continue down his chosen career path. ‘This has undoubtedly been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done,’ he says. ‘My hope is that this DIY approach may inspire other writers to do something similar.’ (Allan Radcliffe)

27 May–10 June 2010 THE LIST 91