Arts and Entertainment Steve Mason

On an evening where the big news of the week was still a live talking point, there was precious little sympathy in a famed back room in Glasgow. “Did you hear what Frankie Boyle said about Thatcher?” asked Steve Mason, sometime Beta Band singer and now the proud-owner of an alias-spattered solo career which has recently taken a turn for the incisively political. It’s the old gag about spending the public money earmarked for the late former PM’s funeral on spades, then “everyone in Scotland can dig a hole and deliver her to Satan in person.”

All social work, and no real play; THEATRE

InThe Positive Hour, a new play by April de Angelis at the Hampstead Theatre, a social worker organises sessions where you sit round in a semi-circle and talk about what you really feel. There are all sorts of things, it emerges, to sit in semi-circles and worry about: gender, empowerment, sisterhood, single-parenthood, marriage, prostitution and sado-masochism. In Max Stafford-Clark's production of The Positive Hour, we are brought face to face with relevant issues about the modern female experience. This isn't quite the same thing as watching a play.

THEATRE: Babycakes, Tron Theatre, Glasgow (0141-552 4267) to Sun. The Drill Hall, London (0171-637 8270) from Tue

"We were terrified. That's a wee understatement for you." Unless the afterlife really does exist, Andrew Davies will never have to argue his case with Jane Austen or George Eliot. Not so John Binnie. His adaptation of Babycakes, the fourth volume of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, has just opened and he and his company, Clyde Unity Theatre, had the pleasure of the author's company for the last four days of rehearsal.

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Colin Matthews Wigmore Hall, London


How's your father?

THEATRE Fool for Love, Donmar Warehouse, London

Theatre Review: Shining Souls Traverse Theatre

Love, it seems, will always find a way. Still. Yet it's an uphill struggle for everyone in Chris Hannan's bravely commercial but clever new play - his first for five years - as the tangles and tatters of screwed up 1990s affairs are exposed in all their ignominy. Anne Mary is getting wed to Billy, who brings her flowers and says pretty things. But her other beau, also called Billy, has talked her into calling it off. The purchase of a wardrobe will sort things out, but the fates are against them from the off. Meanwhile, perennial hustler Charlie inadvertently prophesies his mother's impending demise while scrounging a tenner off his ex. A suit must be bought.

Rough for Diamonds

Non-League notebook:

David Benedict on theatre

"It struck a chord in Winnipeg." It's not the commonest of responses to a play, but Ian Brown, outgoing artistic director of Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre, took his production of Sue Glover's Bondagers to Canada and it went down a storm.

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MUSIC: Fretting about nothing

Fretwork Nash Ensemble Purcell Room, London

THEATRE / Comic stripping: Paul Taylor reviews Poor Super Man at the Hampstead Theatre

Superman is, on the face of it, an unlikely figure to use as a parallel for a gay thirtysomething Canadian artist who shares his Calgary loft with a black HIV- positive transsexual and who is angling to prise his way into the trousers of a young married restaurateur. So unlike the home life of Clark Kent. But in Brad Fraser's compelling new theatre piece, Poor Super Man - A Play with Captions, the resemblances between the split identity of the comic-strip hero and the paintbrush- wielding protagonist's own divided sense of himself are sardonically highlighted.

THEATRE / Safe as houses: The Master Builder; Bondagers - Edinburgh

The Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh bills Ibsen's The Master Builder as 'Sigmund Freud's favourite play'. Anyone suspicious of Freud's psychology and ignorant of his theatrical taste (and who isn't) might well think they would be mad to go and see this production. They would, in fact, be mad to miss it.

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THEATRE / Too many fools to make a masterwork

ALEXANDER Griboyedov (1795- 1829) is known to the world as the author of a single work variously described by its commentators as the first great Russian comedy and the richest verse play in the Russian language. It is also said to be untranslatable; and how are non- Russians to challenge that when the title comes out as The Misfortune of Being Clever and Bitterness out of Intelligence? At least that obstacle has been swept away by its belated and well-titled arrival on the English stage - first as Wit's End (at New End last September), and now as Chatsky, or The Importance of Being Stupid, at the Almeida: one a robust prose version by Stephen Walshe, the other an athletic performance in rhymed verse by Anthony Burgess. Good as they are, I doubt whether Burgess's couplets will turn up as national proverbs, as Griboyedov's did; but at least we can form some idea of why this piece has cast such a lasting spell over its compatriots.
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