The Third Man by Graham Greene. - Tour & World Premiere.
Adaptation - Jonathan Holloway from thenovel by Graham Greene.
Director - Jonathan Holloway.
Design - Neil Irish.
Composer - Ross Brown.
Lighting Design - Matthew Gray and Jonathan Holloway.
Costume Maker Beth Atkinson.
Multimedia Artist - Li E Chen.
Company - Red Shift Theatre Company. Website here.
Tour Dates and Times - here .
Venue Seen - Brunton Theatre Musselburgh on 27 Janurary 2005.
Reviewer - Ksenija Horvat.
Decent show but not a wow.
The initial reaction upon entering the Brunton Theatre's auditorium is that Red Shift Theatre's The Third Man promises to be an atmospheric experience, with its white set pitted against the black background as a metaphor for the slanted monochrome world filled with loners and misfits. The first few minutes into the show seem to live up to this expectation, before the piece disintegrates into the rubble of cliches.
This does not mean that Red Shift's production is without fine moments - there are a few gripping scenes that help prove this is a decent show which one might enjoy as long as one does not expect to be wowed. However, for the most part, one is left to admire Neil Irish's design which is so overwhelming that it turns the entire show into the case of competent acting versus an acomplished scenography.
From the perspective of the said scenography, costumes, lighting and music, Red Shift's The Third Man is a web of complex cues, painstakingly timed to create the utmost effect, and, at the best of times, they do. Still, no amount of technical skill can hide a more serious dramaturgical problem, namely the script's flawed structure that leaves the actors without much dramatic conflict to sink their teeth into. The moment when Harry Lime appears before the audience's eyes is falls flat of magic, and the build-up of a relationship between Martin and Anna is too rushed to seem believable. Similarly, the idea to use television screens on the stage is an inspired one, but it does not to fulfill its potential and, except in the very last chase scene, it remains an interesting, though unmemorable exercise.
One saving grace of this production is, undoubtedly, its cast. While Antony Gabriel still has some miles to go before shaking off Joseph Cotten's shadow as Rollo Martins, Siri Ingul cuts a fine figure as beautiful and vulnerable Anna Schmidt, and David Matthews as Crabbin and Dr Winkler and Daniel Copeland as Kurtz and Hotel Clerk in particular infuse much needed humour into the script which is still very much rough around the edges. Justin Web is a decent enough Harry Lime, though he strikes a much stronger cord with his role of corrupted Colonel Cooler, but it is Andrew Forbes who grabs one's attention in his excellent representation of snoopy Colonel Calloway, the part which stands out as disarmingly refreshing in Holloway's average adaptation.
To be perfectly honest, adapting Graham Greene's renowned novel for the stage will never be a simple task, one is pitted against not only a literary source beloved by many, but also Orson Welles's magnificent screen version from 1949. Neither of those is an easy act to follow, and, sadly, try as he may, Jonathan Holloway does not fully stand and deliver. Holloway, the founder of Red Shift Theatre Company in 1982, is certainly not a newcomer. He lent his oppulent directorial experience to all but one of the company's forty shows, and also worked as a freelance director in the USA and Northern Ireland. He wrote twelve scripts including In the Name of the Beast, which won Edinburgh Fringe First, Crime and Punishment, which was also produced in Spanish in Santiago de Chile, and Mort d'Arthur. His extensive experience should have worked in his favour when he took upon himself a mamouth task of adapting and directing The Third Man, however, on this occasion, as it sometimes happens in any creative process, the final result leaves much to be desired.
Red Shift's The Third Man was launched as part of Graham Greene Centenary Festival in Berkhamster on 2nd October 2004, and will tour nationally until March 2005. It is an odd little piece, borne out of love by a group of visionaries and enthusiasts who are not afraid to try for size the shoes that do not always fit. It might not be perfect, but it is worth seeing if only to congratulate the company on their courage and determination to see this flawed project through.
© Ksenija Horvat, 27 January 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Cast - Daniel Copeland - Kurtz, Tyler, Hotel Clerk; Andrew Forbes - Colonel Calloway; Antony Gabriel - Rollo Martin; Siri Ingul - Anna Schmidt, Austrian Woman; Davit Mathews - Crabbin, Dr Winkler; Justin Web - Harry Lime, Colonel Cooler, Herr Kahlen, Driver.
2005 Tour Details of The Third Man Red shift Theatre Company.
27 - 28 Jan at 7.30pm Musselburgh nr Edinburgh Brunton Theatre 0131 665 2240.
29 Jan at Kirkcaldy Adam Smith Theatre 01592 412 929.
31 Jan 2005 at 7pm Aberdeen Lemon Tree 01224 642 230.
1 & 2 Feb at 7.30pm Edinburgh Traverse Theatre 0131 244 1404.
3 - 5 Feb at 7.45pm Dundee Rep 01382 223 530.
Tour contines in England until 19 March 2005. See Red Shift Website for details.
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