Cl ASSlC THE SHADOW OF A GUNMAN Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 18 Nov 0000
The temptation with Sean O’Casey’s celebrated Dublin trilogy, which began with The Shadow ofa Gunman (1923) and continued with Juno and the Paycock (1924) and The Plough and the Stars (1926), is to present them as knock-about Oirish comedies full of loveable old rogues and working-class chancers. That they have their funny side is not open to question — O’Casey had a fantastic ear for language and a keen eye for a larger-than-life character - but he was also a fiercely political animal and to overplay the comedy is to diminish his serious purpose.
It’s the politics which seem to have attracted director Philip Breen to The Shadow ofa Gunman, which becomes, in his hands, a darker than usual play with a grim contemporary relevance.
With echoes of Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World, the play hinges on a case of mistaken identity. Donal Davoren, played here with head-in-the-clouds detachment by Michael Glenn Murphy, is a poet who’s taken lodgings in a cramped Dublin tenement, sharing a room with the impoverished salesman, Seumas Shields — a rumbustious Ciaran McIntyre. When the neighbours start speculating that he’s secretly an IRA gunman, Donal plays along, amused by the ridiculousness of the idea and aroused by the effect it has on Minnie Powell (Terri Chandler), a romantic republican with the hots for him.
Far from being an inconsequential bit of fun, Donal’s complicity leads to tragedy when the British army storms the tenement and Minnie martyrs herself for a crime he never committed. O’Casey shows how even the most innocent are drawn into a conflict when political feelings are at their highest and there’s an occupying army on the streets.
By playing the two-act drama straight through without an interval, Breen allows himself to take the pace down to a sophorific level in the centre of the play. He risks losing the audience in the process, just as he does in Colin Richmond’s wall-less set which initially confuses our sense of place. The pay-off, however, comes in an explosive second half, in which both peace and property are shattered and the harsh reality of war hits home. (Mark Fisher)
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 25 Nov 00
There's definitely a neglected audience in the theatre. which helongs to a particular generation. Perhaps the off— declared regret that we see few punters in the latter half of their 20s in the theatre is a self fulfilling prophecy. for as our theatre makers hear this in mind. so there tends to he little work created that might appeal to folk who helong to this generation. David Priestley's play fulfils a function in addressing this period of transition from the sensual joys of extended youth to responsihility and professional focus. though whether it fully realises its nohle ainhition is a moot point.
In it. we meet a stodgily responsihle IT professional iDavid Ireland). his less settled art school pal (Gary Collins) and the woman with whom they hoth have a relationship iAhigail Dawes). The recollections of shared youth hetween the two young men is shrouded in a nostalgia somewhat disrupted hy their relationships With the girl. which after some play With chronology. are revealed to he not what they at first seem. Ultimately. it proves to he more the girl's story than that of the two men, and her recollection of a singular. if ephemeral. emotional epiphany. uncovered late on. tells us much of what has preceded it.
Director Lorne Camphell gets some strong performances from his cast. hut they're somewhat undermined hy
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a story which, when all’s said and done. is emotionally rather slight. The irritating sound loop that progresses the narrative hetween scenes doesn't help. and it ultimately hecomes difficult to care for these characters. perhaps because of the odd resort to cliche in the script. All the same. there are clearly flashes of talent in the v./riter. which may realise itself at a later time. (Steve Cramer)
FIFTEEN MINUTES Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, run ended .00
In contemporary times. the idea of what constitutes heauty is no longer left to indiVIdual perspective. Our ideas ahout physical allure are sanctioned hy a mass market. which narrows down the numher of physicalities permitted as attractive to an officially imposed tits and teeth image. l~lighway Diner's contrihution to the Traverse's Cuhed tvlini Festival is a roar against this.
Freely adapted from a novel hy .JC Ballard. The Atrocity Exlirhition. this piece tells the story of a young woman iLaura Cameron Lewis) who discovers that her hoyfriend iChristopher Morgan) has heen dahhling in inter‘net porn. Vulnerahle. she receives an enigmatic telephone call summoning her to the surgery of two grotesque plastic surgeons iKieran McLaughlin. Kelly CroW) who propose a succession of operations that will transform her hody. and with it. her soul. This latter offer proves harder to fulfil. so wrth her hody. the girl's identity is erased. and replaced hy a reified image of mass culture.
The deVised work of the Diners always teerns with ideas. and this multimedia piece is no exception. As it stands. though. there's a work in progress feel. with a hit of unnecessary dialogue and some slightly overhoiled moments. For all that. the four young performers put in a helluva stint. and the” pure dynamism overcomes some of the rough edges. later in the process. this might make for a compelling night out. and as it stands contains some well- realised ideas. iSteve Cramer)
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 25 Nov 0000
Poverty and deht is perhaps the overwhelming fear that stalks contemporary consumer society. That's the starting point for lain Finlay lvlacleod's adaptation of this tale hy contemporary F-rench dramatist DilVKl Lescot.
As poverty walks in the door. love. of course. walks out. So it is for the protagonist of this piece (DaVId Ireland). an unemployed thirtysoinething who is left hy his partner iAhigail Dawes) at the outset. He's then visited hy a court- appointed liguidator (Gary Collins) a peculiar. ainhivalent figure. who seems as much intent on the personal care of our man as his financial rehahilitation. As the flat ~ whose furniture is cleverly represented in ahstract form in Lisa Sangster's design — is ruthlessly stripped of its assets. we find. surprisineg no desperation to re-enter the consumer world on the part of the Victim. Instead. he retreats into an extreme form of (‘lelusionary Slll)]()(3ll\/Ily. taking on the character of The Incredih/e Shrinking Man from a paperhack novel left in the flat hy his former love.
lvlacLeod's guirky humour sets off the Stll)](}()l matter adroitly, as we find. not a tragedy in the loss of a man's status as hourgeois consumer. hut a Joyous kind of liheration. Removed from the worship of ohlects and shifted into a kind of primal state of self. Ireland's character seems more in synch with his organic envrronment than the folk that surround him. A nice performance from the latter. with good hack up. makes this an amusing and ultimately very challenging night of play at the expense of contemporary materialism. iSteve Cl'étlllOl'I
it) .50 Ne). 30.)); THE LIST 87