PREVIEW REVIVAL THE BREATHING HOUSE Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 26–Sat 29 Jan
Scott Cadenhead is reluctant to call himself the ‘artistic director’ of Rekindle Theatre, opting instead for ‘driving force’. The Glasgow-based company is set to perform what will be only its second production, a revival of Peter Arnott’s The Breathing House, which won awards and critical acclaim following its world premiere at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum in 2003.
Formed on the back of Cadenhead’s masters at RSAMD, the company aims to ‘rekindle’ under-performed classics. ‘Quite often in theatre, it’s only the greatest hits that are revived,’ he says. ‘I’ll always go and see those plays but I thought it would be interesting to have a company that looked for those smaller gems that don’t get performed again.’
For Cadenhead, Arnott’s play falls into this category and the experience of seeing its original run has stayed with him. Set in the 1860s, The Breathing House is shrouded in a gothic atmosphere that pits public respectability against private desires. But despite its definitive Edinburgh setting, Cadenhead is sure the play will also appeal to audiences in the capital’s main cultural rival.
‘It is very Edinburgh specific,’ he admits, ‘and I think the humour of how the characters speak about Edinburgh will play differently in Glasgow. But its core is definitely the relationships between the characters. It’s a universal story that I’m sure will be welcomed in Glasgow as well.’ (Yasmin Sulaiman)
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78 THE LIST 20 Jan–3 Feb 2011
PREVIEW ADAPTATION THE BECKETT TRILOGY: MOLLOY, MALONE DIES AND THE UNNAMABLE Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 21 & Sat 22 Jan
Samuel Beckett may be better known for iconic plays such as Waiting for Godot and Endgame but Irish theatre outfit Gare St Lazare Players has proved over the last 14 years that his lesser-known prose works have as much to offer when performed on stage. Spearheaded by director Judy Hegarty Lovett and actor Conor Lovett, it has toured internationally, more extensively than any other Irish theatre company, and will arrive at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre this month with its lauded production of Beckett’s Trilogy, in which Lovett undertakes a solo performance spanning over three hours.
It’s a daunting task for any actor but Lovett relishes the challenge, citing the production as one of his favourite to perform in Gare St Lazare’s extensive repertoire of Beckett prose works. ‘I love the development you see across the three pieces,’ he says. ‘Molloy is almost slapstick comedy at times, then Malone Dies darkens. Finally, The Unnamable goes into
this almost David Lynchian space and I really enjoy performing that.’
Lovett sees his role as secondary to the finely tuned nature of Beckett’s writing, a quality made evident as these three works progress during the evening. He says: ‘Judy and I have always said we want to let the writing be heard, so we try to keep me out of the way in order to respect its rhythms. As Molloy turns into Malone Dies, the whole idea of story begins to break down. By The Unnamable, Beckett has attempted to write a novel without any plot and we try and map how that might have happened.’
It may sound demanding but Lovett is keen to highlight Beckett’s accessibility. ‘Across the globe, audiences are surprised at how easy he is to follow,’ he says. ‘For some reason, they have a sense that it is not going to be easy and that has always surprised me. Beckett had huge compassion for his characters, he invested them with great integrity. Like any good writer, he was cruel to his characters. They are people who are just trying to get on with life and make sense of it, and I think audiences respond to that.’ (Yasmin Sulaiman)
REVIEW REVIVAL A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, until Sat 12 Feb ●●●●●
A View From the Bridge is the fifth Arthur Miller play to be staged by the Royal Lyceum in close succession, and director John Dove’s passion for the American playwright comes through loud and clear in a taut and powerful production. The director’s main focus here is the individual tragedy of Eddie Carbone, the Sicilian- American longshoreman, whose obsession with his niece Catherine leads him to betray her illegal immigrant suitor, with devastating consequences for Eddie’s standing in the community. Stanley Townsend is tremendous as Eddie, by turns tender, monstrous and finally pathetic. There are many fine performances among the central ensemble, with Kirsty
Mackay and Kathryn Howden compelling as the innocent but spirited Catherine and Eddie’s neglected wife Beatrice while Liam Brennan is quietly authoritative as the lawyer Alfieri, whose world-weary narration provides a sense of the wider implications of Eddie’s actions. The only slight drawback is the scant emphasis given to the Brooklyn Sicilian-
American community beyond Eddie’s immediate family and acquaintances. While we eventually absorb the terrible implications of Eddie’s betrayal of members of his own community, the emphasis here is squarely on the protagonist’s inarticulate emotional struggle. It remains a slick, engrossing production for that, with a climax that is understated yet quietly devastating. (Allan Radcliffe)
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