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Kate Atkinson turns to ghosts and God in her playwriting debut

With a succession of critically acclaimed best-selling novels to her credit, Kate Atkinson should have little to learn about writing. But her first experience as a dramatist has, she maintains, been an education. Given that her novels have frequently involved domestic drama, wasn't the transition simple? ‘Well, people have often said I write good dialogue in my novels, but actually, if you look at them, there isn't actually that much dialogue in them, it's all internal monologue,’ she says.

For Atkinson, the main learning process in the theatre is its capacity to create reality collaboratively, a departure from the solitary pursuit of the novelist. ’You learn how clever actors are. The process isn’t so much about writing, because what you write is going to change as soon as the actor speaks it. They're amazing, I hadn’t realised just how good actors were until now, you can trust them to catch all those nuances you thought you’d have to write into the stage directions.’

Atkinson’s play parallels the lives of women in the present day with those of women in the mid Victorian period through the story of a woman living in a characters is a bounder and a rotter in the past, but he's Victorian house. She's joined there by her sister, her very straightjacketed, his behaviour is controlled by his mother and her best friend, and a succession of phrases society. A man with much the same instincts appears in and events evoke the ghost of a previous tenant, the present day, and he doesn’t have the same whose life echoes the lives of the modern women. restrictions, so he behaves differently, but not in a Does Atkinson believe in ghosts? ‘Well, I’m not inclined better way.’ to disbelieve in them. I’m more inclined to believe in Atkinson's characters face the same problems in them than God.’ Atkinson has indeed come to the separate centuries, but she has no simple solutions realisation that this is what the play is about. ’I keep about whether the past is a better or worse place: ’lt’s telling everyone it’s about the death of God, but no just that morality these days is a self-made thing. These one believes me,’ she laughs. days we're given more freedom, but what do we do

As she explains this, though, the play emerges as a with that freedom?’ (Steve Cramer) more complex piece than simple SOs existentialism. She for detai/s, see Hit/ist, rig/it

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Michelle Gomez, Patricia Kerrigan and Elaine C. Smith

points out that Victorian value structures were based on a belief in God, and that a vacuum has been left in the absence of these structures: ’One of the male

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A d | O'Hanlon The Irish comic

destresses his way through the Fringe

recent surressful stint at the Montreal

slog for the long weekend Comedy Festival, O'Hanlon is eager to And at 3.3, he re< kons its return to the relatively relaxed

just as well ‘You need a idinlnirgh atmosphere ‘lt's so

kidney dialysis rnat hine different from l\.rlontrea| ' he says,

if you're doing three 'There you only get seven minutes lhe \‘ueeks,’ says \.".’ll()l(‘ thing is geared towards

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O'l lanlon's sut < ess has also removed Ittll( h of the stress that tomes With performing night after night 'Nowl don't do it to make a hiring, I enjoy

stand-up more than ever,’ he says 'I do it purely for the love of it The pressure's oll and the shows hetter l)(‘( ause you're

(‘ll]()ylll(] it ' look fomard to 0/

minutes of (()llll( genius and see

(an trade in the three week long

For many comedians the Fringe offers the allure of potential stardom Maybe, just maybe, that (igar-

pur'f ng promoter/IV exer \.'.’lll see your show and whisk you off to a i.‘.or|d far removed from dark heery halls parked With dranken hetklers But for Ardal O'Hanlon Dougal from father let/i, having


arrived in that star-studded 'i.'.'orld means he


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The Best Of Prime Time

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Ardal O'Hanlon

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Americana Absurdum

After a long and suttesstui run I" Nev. York, this mo'dant exert ise |.". (oirzedy shouid hrng as plenty to reflett on Engage ‘.‘.!il‘: the story of the itiast'..ri)atsr‘g daughter o‘ an undertaker strugglntg to get a pron: lll(}".i date, or the (it":!.'l("- o\'.':ing poet hilll‘. a trash to

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The Zero Yard

After last year's Fringe sensation, The Riot Group is hark ‘ei'th tne niolent story ( f lzt'e in thokey Not for those of a trueasy d sposit»o.", nut 'ii.'et:ng ei‘tertairur‘ent See prevent liieZero Yard 'f‘ringe' The Rio: Group, lne Garage "Jeni/e t’.’ 72] 9009, Aug (5 78, [7 ’f,‘ ',

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% it? Kurt; 2001) THE lIST FESTIVAL GUIDE 47