Three of a kind

Ardal O'Hanlon: observational blamey merchant

Love puppets

Puppets are for kids. right? Wrong -

and Manchester based company Doo

Cot is determined to change your perceptions of puppetry forever. Doo Cot is the brainchild of puppeteer Nenagh Watson and artist Rachael Field. Watson trained in sculpture and theatre. specialising in puppetry at the Institute de la Marionette in France while Field. :1 fine art painter. has exhibited her work throughout Britain

5 and Germany.

Although Watson and Field have been working together since I986. the

3 company was officially christened Doo ' Cot when they collaborated on an

installation in Glasgow as part ofthe City of Culture programme in l990. So

why ‘Doo Cot“? ‘It‘s Scots for a 5 wooden bird house. which resembles an early puppet booth.‘ explains Watson.

The company‘s current project. Odd If You Dare. promises to deliver Doo Cot‘s unique fusion of puppetry. painting. live music and computer- generated imagery. They were the first

i puppet company to receive a Barclay‘s

Stand-up comedian Ardal ()‘Hanlon seems to be trapped in a joke which begins: ‘there were these three lrishmen . . .‘

()‘Hanlon first made a name for himself on Dublin‘s admittedly tiny circuit as a member of comedy trio Mr Trellis. When he travelled to the Edinburgh Festival last year. he was one of the three Irish unknowns playing under the banner Young. Gifted and (ireen. It was there that his combination of Irish observational blarney and surreal stories marked ()‘Hanlon as one to watch.

And now. in another story ofthree comedy lrishrnen. O‘Hanlan plays one of the leads in Channel 4‘s new sitcom Father Ted which began at the end of April. The stand-up plays wide-eyed innocent Father Dougal. a well- meaning but gormless priest who has only a tenuous grasp of theology.

The sitcom‘s laboured delivery leans heavily on rural Ireland stereotypes. I from backward potato-eaters to the inevitable bibulous priest. Even the Galway location shots have been given an excessively green hue to emphasise the whole Emerald Isle bit. ‘lt‘s done in a kind of knowing way.’ says O‘Hanlon. invoking the trusty ‘irony' defence. ‘You'd have to be pretty sensitive to be offended. I don‘t think Father Ted is satirical in any way but it‘s pretty well observed.‘

However for O‘Hanlon. Father Ted and his forthcoming bi: part in the Hollywood movie of Daniel Defoe‘s Moll Flanders. is a mildly entertaining diversion from stand-up. ‘I started as a stand-up and I don't really like actors. but I‘m hesitant to turn these parts down.‘ he says. Looks like O‘Hanlon isn‘t about to give up the late-night job. (Eddie Gibbl

Ardal O’Hanlon appears on Wed 17 May at The Tron, Glasgow; Thurs 18 at Paisley Arts Centre; Sun 21 at the Gilded Balloon. Edinburgh.

New Stages Award, which has provided financial support for Odd‘s nationwide tour.

The company‘s reputation was sealed

after the success of Peacock. which E was performed as part of Barclay‘s : New Stages Festival at the Royal Court

Theatre in London last year. Telling the

story of a gay man. Peacock tackled the

issue of homophobia and proved so popular that audiences had to be turned


This year‘s production should be just

i as controversial. Odd If You Dare is

the story of two women who have either rejected society or been rejected by it and live their lives on the periphery. inhabiting the city‘s seedy underworld.

The tawdry cityscape which provides the backdrop for Odd is created using silhouette and scrap. and the trash lives of the characters are accentuated through the use of puppets and

costumes crafted from the discarded rubbish of the streets. Music is also integral to the piece and singer Doreen Edwards will carry the narrative through songs which range in style from operatic diva to riot gm‘l.

Watson and Field derived their inspiration for the piece from the red light district of Manchester in which they live and work. ‘The play tells of two women and their struggle to survive on the street.’ :ays Watson. ‘Much of Odd is based on our experiences ofthe area we live in and the stories we‘ve heard there.’

in the same way as the Boilerhouse

production Hear/state gave a voice to

Made irom girders: revolutionary costume design from 000 Get

those for whom the Tory dream became a living nightriiare. Odd aims to articulate the experience of prostitutes and the homeless society‘s dispossessed. It‘s not a totally downbeat show though. 'There‘s both humour and sadness in the play.‘ says Watson. ‘but it does end on a positive note.‘

Odd If You Dare is a story of love. sex and death in I990s Britain. What more could you ask for? Just don't bring the kids. (Cathryn O’Neill)

Odd If You Dare. Doo Cot. Paisley Arts Centre, Sat 6; Traverse Theatre. Edinburgh, Wed lO—Sun l4.

mari— lt’s a beautiful wife

Hungary 24, Portugal 104, Slovenia 32, Holland 64, Bosnia 40. lot, as you might suppose, dodgy Eurovislon Song Contest scores. In tact, these ilgures represent lost a iew oi the 11 ,000 periormances oi Bay Dooney's bedroom iarce, Run For Your Wlie, which visits Edinburgh this tortnlght. The ever-popular comedy centres on bigamlst London cobble John Smith and the problems he conironts leading two separate wives. Basically it’s a tale oi sex, liesand contusion.

Run For Your Wlie Is the longest- runnlng comedy In london, having chalked up over 3800 pertormances. Windsor Davies, who plays police sergeant Porterhouse, has appeared in over 500 oi these, In several dliierent

Windsor Davies: authority on co theatres. He adores the show.

‘You really are on the ball all the time,’ explains Davies In his rugged Welsh brogue. ‘The motion oi the audiences ls marvellous, and you can see the enjoyment coming over In waves. It’s appealing because It’s a well-oiled machine, a classic oi its the. It's about people desperater

trying to get out oi trouble. It’s about people telling lies and how other people don’t see the detail In them.’

like the show, Davies ls well travelled. He’s had a long lite in television, illm and theatre. Variety is the spice oi hls lite, and he ieels as much at home playing Brecht or Jonathan Miller as he does In panto or the llocky Honor Picture Show. lie is, however, best remembered tor his role as another authority tlgure, Sergeant- Malor Williams In It Ain’t llali llot Mum, 8801 ’s camp Second World War comedy. Davies regards that role as just part oi a lot ot luck he has had In his career.

. ‘li people think oi me as Williams

then that’s a compliment, they remember me,’ he says happily. ‘The old sergeant-major has been good to me, both directly and Indirectly - but then I’m quite a lucky person. Luck is a licence to work hard and I get a lot oi satisiaction out at working hard.’ (Philip Dorward)

Hun For Your Wlie, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Mon Net 13 May.

85 The List 5-18 May 1995