Skip to main content

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

Before the opening of Mark Thomson's new production of Bertolt Brecht's late-period masterpiece, seen here in a new translation by Alistair Beaton, the large ensemble cast begin to mill about the auditorium. Dressed down in jeans and hoodies, they chat with the audience as they enter, or else warm up their accordion playing in the box seats above Karen Tennant's expansive set, left wide-open with pianos and a drum kit arranged around a gallows and some pillars.

As a plummy-voiced civil service type attempts to foster social engineering in a war-ravaged village, Sarah Swire's rock diva narrator breezes onstage, and the villagers become a multi-tasking musical theatre troupe, playing out the plight of servant girl Grusha, who flees an uprising with her Imelda Marcos-like mistress's forgotten child after pledging herself to soldier Simon. With Grusha's survival dependent on others, her story eventually gives way to that of Azdak, a village eccentric turned accidental judge, who must decide the fate of both Grusha and the child her blood mother wants returned.

With the business of bad governments at a global premium just now, there is no better time for a production of Brecht's epic, which Thomson invests with warmth and sensitivity rarely seen in Brecht. With much of the cast cross-dressing with Monty Python style glee, Christopher Fairbanks' court-room shenanigans borders on Carry On, while Amy Manson invests Grusha with a heady
vulnerability.

It is Claire McKenzie's live score, however, that powers the narrative, and Swire leads the cast with a mix of punk folk fury, Country laments and out and out swing in an all too necessary display of strength through joy.
 
The Herald, February 25th 2015

ends


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…