Skip to main content

Stephen Sutcliffe - Sex Symbols in Sandwich Signs

Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh until September 30th
Four stars

On the big screen in Talbot Rice's downstairs gallery, a film shows two men at work and play on an imagined approximation of a film set. One is a macho brute, who uses his physical prowess to torment and prick-tease the other, more effete, and clearly hopelessly devoted object of his ire. A second film shows the same actors playing similar characters, but with a blunter, more melodramatic denouement.

This is 'Casting Through and Scenes from Radcliffe', Stephen Sutcliffe's latest reimagining of a very northern English form of pop cultural iconoclasm that forms the core of his Edinburgh Art Festival show. The first part is a staged re-enactment drawn from diary entries of film and theatre director Lindsay Anderson while working with actor Richard Harris on his feature film adaptation of David Storey's novel, This Sporting Life.

The second depicts dramatised scenes adapted from Radcliffe, Storey's Booker Prize nominated but critically panned 1963 novel. Storey's parallel tale of unrequited cross-class homosexual desire appeared the same year as Anderson's film of 'This Sporting Life', and the Morrisseyesque title of Sutcliffe's show is taken from a damning review of the book.

Having actors Ali Craig and Paul Cunningham performing Sutcliffe's texts script-in-hand suggests an early rehearsal of a bigger, still unfinished staging. In execution this is as meta as some of Anderson's own work,both in his 1973 masterpiece 'O Lucky Man!' and his rendering of Alan Bennett's TV play, 'The Old Crowd', five years later.

Elsewhere are excerpts from the Stirling-based Lindsay Anderson Archive, as well as books and videos from Sutcliffe's own archive, and a show-reel of Sutcliffe's short works. With 'Casting Through and Scenes from Radcliffe' at the show's centre, Sutcliffe gives voice to a vivid reclaiming of post-Second World War outsiderdom in terms of class and sexuality. One yearns for it to burst through the screen, so that voice can be given living flesh as well. (Neil Cooper)


The List, August 2017


ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

The Divide

King's Theatre
Four stars

Everything is black and white in Alan Ayckbourn's new play, a six hour two part epic set in a dystopian future where men and women are segregated from each other following the aftermath of an unspecified plague. Into this landscape, the secret diaries of brother and sister Elihu and Soween are brought to life by Jake Davies and Erin Doherty with a wide-eyed lightness of touch as their hormones get the better of them when they both hit puberty.
Annabel Bolton's production for the Old Vic, EIF and Karl Sydow begins with a TED Talk type lecture that reveals the back story to how things turned out this way. It ends with a sentimental love story designed to tug the heart-strings. Inbetween, there is teenage rebellion aplenty against the regime's institutionalised repression. Liberation comes through art and sex, which, in such extreme circumstances become even greater life forces.

With both plays told through the siblings' diaries alongside ass…