PREVIEW IMMERSIVE THEATRE PROJECT THE SALON PROJECT Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Mon 10–Sat 22 Oct
Show us the man or woman who isn’t even a little excited by the thought of dressing up and becoming someone else for the night, and we’ll show you a liar. Now best known as a director, but originally a designer, Untitled Projects’ director Stewart Laing is not someone to hide his delight in matters sartorial, as the blog for The Salon Project – an online lookbook of bustles, fur collars, white ties and even beards that have taken his fancy – very much belies.
This uniquely immersive theatre project, presented as a
real-life version of social networking, will transform the Traverse’s main theatre into an opulent simulation of a room in a fin-de-siècle home, and up to 60 audience members per night into period versions of themselves, kitted out in specially sourced costumes from wardrobe departments around Scotland. ‘I think it’s a thrill,’ says Laing, ‘I think it will make people move and stand in a different way, and I’m just really interested to know what difference it will make.’ Costumed in their finery, participants will be led into the salon, where an evening of intellectual conversation and entertainment awaits. ‘What we didn’t want to do,’ insists Laing, ‘was something like that old television programme The Good Old Days where people would get dressed up in period costumes and watch period music in a period theatre. We thought that it would be more interesting to look in both directions.’ Thus the roster of speakers who will entertain the salon’s guests is drawn from the ranks of contemporary intellectual thought, including Robert Wringham, editor of daydreamers’ fanzine The New Escapologist and architectural theorist Katarina Bonnevier.
Seeking to gently engage those present in real
conversations about contemporary matters, the company aims to provoke consideration of what the future could hold. ‘I think what we’re trying to do is to get people to place themselves in a historical continuum,’ says Laing, ‘so that they’re looking backwards and they’re looking forwards – and really one can’t separate those things.’ (Laura Ennor)
N A L R A H L E U N A M
PREVIEW ADAPTATION DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Fri 14–Sat 29 Oct REVIEW REVIVAL MEN SHOULD WEEP Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 8 Oct ●●●●●
JP Miller’s dark 1958 television drama, which married the subjects of alcoholism and dependency, is bravely re-imagined by Owen McCaffrye’s 2005 adaptation, in which the central lovers are Belfast natives relocated to London. In the piece the naive young protagonist falls foul of the seductive world of the swingin’ 60s with a husband who willingly allows her fall from grace. ‘Belfast [then] wasn’t as we know it now,’ explains director Kenny Miller. ‘It was still a few steps behind. The play deals with the excitement of her being thrown into a new life.’ Theatre Jezebel never flinch from exploring dark
subject matter and this time Miller wanted something Scotland hasn’t seen before.
‘At its roots, it’s about alcohol and persuading another person alcohol is fun. However, there is a serious message about how destructive it is on two people who love each other. It’s difficult onstage to keep the emotional journey going. It’s very important to immerse yourself in what these people are like and we need to go on the rollercoaster with them. ‘It’s a fantastic script and amazing performances
It does not take much imagination to see that, when it was first performed in 1947, Ena Lamont Stewart’s play would be genuinely shocking. Eight spunky dames and two hopeless men are trapped in a squalid room and kitchen during the 1930s. In the absence of privacy, all dirty linen is washed in public. For 2011, director Graham McLaren has recreated the slum within a shipping container. A strong cast wring all the astringent comedy from Stewart’s well- crafted script, but they fail to contrast it with the necessary tragedy. The men moan about the women while sponging off them. Lorraine McIntosh’s Maggie is a flawed matriarch, indulging her feckless eldest son, ignoring baby Bertie’s heart-rattling cough. To our contemporary eyes, blonde bombshell daughter Jenny’s desire to leave home is perfectly sensible. Her return, in genuine silk stockings, with a possible solution to the family’s problems, provokes a moral outrage that would not happen now and is not well enough signposted by the characters to stand up.
What’s left is a period piece that does little more
from Sally [Reid] and Keith [Fleming]. It’s too good a story not to be told.’ (Kirstyn Smith) than remind us that Britain has been broken for longer than we might have thought. (Anna Burnside)
REVIEW STAGE ADAPTATION KES Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Thu 29 Sep–Sat 1 Oct, and on tour ●●●●●
This sensitive stage version of Barry Hines’ award- winning book opens with utter chaos on stage. Tables lie on their sides, a sofa is upturned, and remnants of 1970s life are strewn amongst them. The central conceit of the adaptation is that a grown-up Billy Casper has returned to observe his 15-year-old self. It’s all just a memory, which is why the house is in such a jumble. But of course, it also works wonderfully as a metaphor for Billy’s entire existence.
Bullied by his brother, neglected by his mother and thrashed by his egomaniacal headteacher, Billy has a giant hole in his life where love, hope and security should be. Until, that is, he finds a baby kestrel in a nest and slowly learns to train and care for it, ploughing all his hitherto unused love into this small, furry friend. Actors Sean Murray and James Anthony Pearson have their work cut out, sustaining 70 minutes of non-stop action on their own. But Pearson’s rendition of the troubled teenager is poignancy itself, while Murray switches from mum to brother to sports coach to shop keeper as if nothing is outside his range. (Kelly Apter)
104 THE LIST 22 Sep–20 Oct 2011