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SHAKESPEARE REBOOT TWELFTH NIGHT Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 28 Jan–Sat 1 Feb
Although Filter Theatre’s version of Shakespeare’s satirical romance has been touring since 2006, its genesis was modest. ‘Originally we were commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company to give a response to Twelfth Night,’ explains Ferdy Roberts, co-artistic director and founder. ‘We initially put it together in a week – this allowed us to throw it up in the air and make some brave, even crazy decisions. We cut it, edited it, messed it up and it keeps developing and moving on.’
Filter’s attitude towards Shakespeare is to approach
the script with their usual process as if they were devising. Having musicians in the room throughout lends Filter a particular energy, and has led to their shows being described as ‘rock’n’roll theatre’. For Roberts, this helped Filter ‘get to the heart of the themes’ of the play. ‘We had the chance to be anarchic and deconstruct it,’ he continues, pointing out that the original productions would have played to a more dynamic audience – social life would be conducted during the performance – than today’s relatively polite spectators. With live music on stage, and an iconoclastic approach to the Bard, Filter clearly fit in with the Citizens’ enthusiasm for updating the classics. (Gareth K Vile)
FOLK THEATRE RANTIN The Arches, Glasgow, Fri 24 & Sat 25 Jan; Summerhall, Edinburgh, Thu 6 Feb
After a successful stint at The Arches’ Behaviour Festival last year, Kieran Hurley’s Rantin embarks on an extensive Scottish tour, thanks to the National Theatre of Scotland. Like Hurley’s past successes, Hitch and Beats, music is at the core of Rantin, but this time it’s the traditional kind. ‘I’ve always been interested in the sense of shared
communal experience that theatre can sometimes achieve with its audience, and was interested in playing more with how music might relate to this,’ says Hurley. ‘This got me thinking about ceilidh-theatre, in particular the influential work of 7:84 in the 1970s, and I began to ask what a 21st century ceilidh play might look like.’ Developed with theatre makers Julia Taudevin and Liam Hurley, and musicians Gav Prentice and Drew Wright (Wounded Knee), the show draws on Scottish folk traditions and current events to create a part-gig, part-theatre atmosphere. And although it doesn’t tackle the independence referendum, it takes a timely look at identity. ‘In the show, Scotland and “Scottishness” mean something quite different to every character you meet. It attempts the blatantly impossible task of sketching a portrait of a nation; it is inevitably fragmented and incomplete, and that’s part of the point.’ (Yasmin Sulaiman)
MUSICAL TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT Edinburgh Playhouse, Mon 17–Sat 22 Feb
What with selling out almost the entire opening week of the SSE Hydro arena in Glasgow last autumn, public affection for Rod Stewart and his music isn’t likely to abate soon, especially not in Scotland. This touring version of the 2003 Ben Elton musical compilation of his hits will certainly be a commercial success.
The show tells the tale of gas station mechanic Stuart Clutterbuck, who trades his soul to the devil in exchange for the soul of Rod Stewart. It’s ‘a fun, optimistic, all-things-are-possible experience, telling stories of characters that dare to dream,’ says Michael McKell, who plays Stoner, head of the band that Stuart runs off with.
‘Stoner is a roamer, a rocker, a gypsy in the mould of Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Dudley Moore with a dash of Michael Caine,’ says McKell, conjuring up a cast of real-life characters who define an era. ‘Stoner’s an Englishman who toured the States in the mid-70s and stayed there, drinking, womanising and playing rock’n’roll in the hope that one day he would get a shot at the title.’ If the dream expressed here belongs to that of an older crowd, Sugababe Jade Ewen will be appearing to lend some cross- generational appeal. (David Pollock)
CLASSIC REVIVAL LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 8 Feb
‘It’s so painfully honest,’ says director Tony Cownie when asked about the key to the importance of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, a new revival of which he’s created for the Lyceum. ‘It’s very interesting that O’Neill didn’t want the play to be produced in his lifetime as it was so personal to the experience of his family growing up. It’s one of the most important plays of the last century; the history speaks for itself.’ Set in the early 1900s in seaside Connecticut, it gives an
account of one day in the life of the Irish-American Tyrone family, and the emotions that brew up in the cauldron of their various addictions to alcohol and morphine. The tyrannical head of the family, James Tyrone, provided a legendary role for Sir Laurence Olivier in his last performance for the National Theatre, and it’s one of the great parts. O’Neill himself was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the play.
Written in the 1940s and first staged in 1956, it’s one of the
seminal works of American theatre and, says Cownie, ‘one of those plays that stays with you’. Certainly, it is a visceral, troubling play, with the family struggling with addictions, illness and frustration. Cownie remembers seeing it once in Dundee and again at the Dublin International Festival in 2004 with James Cromwell among the cast. ‘That was the uncut version of about four and a half hours: ours is shorter.’
Other than that, he says, it’s a faithful version of a piece that requires absolutely no updating. ‘The themes within the play are universal and they resonate throughout human existence,’ he says. ‘The dependency on each other and how they blame each other for their own deficiencies: that’s a very human flaw. Also how addicted we are as people without really realising it, and how much we hide from ourselves.’ (David Pollock)
23 Jan–20 Feb 2014 THE LIST 91