Skip to main content

The Pool of Bethesda


Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

Matters of life and death are an everyday experience for Daniel Pearce, the doctor at the centre of Allan Cubitt’s little-seen 1991 play, in which the good doctor must face up to his own mortality. As all the women in his life – his lover, Jane, sister, Ruth and nurse, Kate – flock to his bedside, Pearce falls down a Hogarthian rabbit hole inspired by the painting that hangs on the stairwell of St Bart’s Hospital, and which gives the play its title. The delirium that ensues throws up a vivid scenario in which Pearce poses as Christ for Hogarth’s painting, while his real-life loved ones are reinvented as a parade of eighteenth century good-time girls and fops. It takes more earthbound associations with a bottle of Polish vodka provided by Callum Douglas’ hospital porter Simon and a meeting with a former patient, however, to put Pearce’s priorities into harsh perspective.

The play marked the first sighting of Cubitt, who rapidly moved into television, penning Prime Suspect 2. He is best known these days for creating the Gillian Anderson-led psychological cop drama, The Fall. Perhaps tellingly, The Pool of Bethesda bears a superficial, if non-musical resemblance to Dennis Potter’s hospital-set TV fantasia, The Singing Detective, which appeared five years before Cubitt’s play.

Mark Thomson’s production is performed by final year BA acting students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, who get to grips with a heap of first-world grown-up stuff, which they play with a steely intelligence. Both Edward Soper as Pearce and Paula Nugent as Jane are unafraid to heighten their characters flaws as much as their virtues in a work where all of the women seem biblically devoted to Pearce in a dramatic think-piece on faith, healing, love and loss.

The Herald, May 21st 2018

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…