Previews | THEATRE

REVIVAL WAITING FOR GODOT Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 18 Sep–Sat 10 Oct

If 50 really is the new 40, then life surely begins now for Edinburgh’s prestigious Royal Lyceum Theatre, celebrating its half century in grand style with two of Scotland’s best loved actors teaming up to bring back Samuel Beckett’s celebrated tragi-comedy Waiting for Godot. Lyceum founding member Brian Cox and Bill Paterson will be donning the white pan stick to play Vladimir and Estragon, the hapless, cypher-like down and outs whose philosophical meanderings are as sharply relevant today as when Beckett first brought them to the stage over 60 years ago. Outgoing artistic director Mark Thomson believes that the play’s enduring appeal lies in the timeless complexities and enigmas of Beckett’s text. ‘The play never becomes outdated because it never belonged to any place and time,’ he argues. ‘Its ideas, playfulness and bleakness have been around since “the dawn of’’ and will hang around as long as we’re here. I don’t think Godot or Beckett was part of any “Theatre of the Absurd”. I’m not so arrogant or stupid to reduce a marvellously funny, dark and complex slice of theatre art by presuming to know its secrets.’

Thomson adds: ‘But there’s an overwhelming sense that we’re watching something which has its teeth buried deep in truth. Bill and Brian will find their Didi and Gogo through rehearsals and both they and the audience will find out the meaning of the play, here, now, maybe on any given night when they do it. They are extraordinary people as well as actors and this is what makes the prospect exciting, because they are these real people just as Johnny Bett’s Pozzo and Benny Young’s Lucky are.’ He continues: ‘It just happens to be that the poor buggers find

themselves on Beckett’s road, day to day, waiting for this guy called Godot. Wonder if he’ll come?’ (Lorna Irvine)

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FESTIVAL LUMINATE Various venues, Scotland-wide, Thu 1–Sat 31 Oct CLASSIC DRAMA ALL MY SONS King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 22–Sat 26 Sep

ADAPTATION BRAVE NEW WORLD King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 29 Sep–Sat 3 Oct

Theatre, unlike fickle fashion or the ‘yoof-chasing’ music industry, is not predominantly a young person’s game. With over-50s making up 18.5% of the British population, the stage is an ideal platform to bring voices of senior citizens to a wide audience. Luminate festival, which takes place across October, is dedicated to creating vivacious, thought-provoking theatre, film, workshops and performance featuring older people. In Donna Rutherford’s Broth, soup making

becomes not only a symbol of nourishment, but a shared experience. It is an exploration of community and the many voices of the ageing generation, of hard-earned wisdom, storytelling and ritual. Glas(s) Performance, meanwhile, have Old Boy, a work-in- progress featuring grandfathers and their grandsons based on real life stories of Scottish families. Once Upon A Time is a unique collaboration between Theatre Bristol and the Polish Cultural Institute and features trapeze artists and dancers aged over 65. This incredible dance-theatre piece is an unflinching look at the effects of time on bodies, but also strength, beauty and resilience. Such performance is a defiant riposte from an often dismissed generation, proving their stories are as vital as those of younger people. (Lorna Irvine)

Michael Emans, through his Rapture theatre company, has developed a reputation for taking serious works in this case from iconic American playwright Arthur Miller and giving them an accessible and immediate production. ‘Rapture has always been committed to producing great plays,’ he says, ‘either classics deserving another viewing or plays never seen in Scotland before.’

Set in the aftermath of WWII, All My Sons demonstrates the interconnectedness of society, and challenges the belief that capitalism, with its respect for profit, can avoid moral responsibility.

It is also an important anniversary: ‘This is the centenary of Arthur Miller’s birth,’ Emans continues. ‘As one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century, he has a great deal to impart on the human condition.’ With a second Miller play from Rapture touring in October, The Last Yankee, Emans is offering a chance for audiences to get a flavour of his range. ‘These plays represent classics of both his early work and his later writing,’ he says. And while All My Sons may be familiar, Emans

explains that it has not lost its relevance: ‘We can all identify with having to face up to the tragic results of decisions, made in a moment, which have long- lasting consequences.’ (Gareth K Vile)

Aldous Huxley’s novel stands alongside Orwell’s 1984 as a classic dystopian text of the 20th century. Describing a society built on eugenics and consumerism, and lashings of promiscuous sex, it imagines a totalitarianism maintained by pleasure rather than oppression. The choice of These New Puritans a band

blessed with a rare, expansive musical vision to provide the soundtrack emphasises how James Dacre’s production is determinedly contemporary. The casting of Sophie Ward (pictured, the ill-fated love interest in the film Young Sherlock) as the Controller of Western Europe reveals how the writer, Dawn King, wanted to create a modern dystopia. ‘I felt that having a female controller of Western

Europe is more representative of our world today,’ she says (in the novel the controller is male). Aside from the intriguing feminist implications of this gender swap, Brave New World, unlike 1984, does not revel in the violence of oppression but explores how a population can be manipulated by the promise of freedom from religion, morality and aspiration. While the hero may be a ‘savage’, his noble impulses challenge the optimism that science and the market can set the human free. (Gareth K Vile)

3 Sep–5 Nov 2015 THE LIST 83


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