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Michael Coveney: Travails in the Traverse

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Most of yesterday was spent in the smaller Traverse, which is like sitting in an oven turned up to Gas Mark Five. Luckily the plays were almost worth it, and Groundhog Day was enlivened by some bad behaviour, onstage and off.

The one show I skipped was Tim Crouch's The Author, with its pre-arranged audience disruption, to which some of said disrupted audience are taking very strong exception and disrupting the disruption by walking out.

Traverse director Dominic Hill had to exit smartly, too, from The Girl in the Yellow Dress, as the builders and stonemasons fiddling about on the disgraceful building site outside suddenly got very noisy.

And the curse of strict scheduling kicked in when two people at My Romantic History had to beetle away, presumably to a late night comedian somewhere, as the show droned on way past its ninety minute mark.

My Romantic History is co-presented by the Sheffield Crucible -- who have designed the set of cardboard packing boxes -  and the Bush, typical of this year's collaborative frenzy at the Traverse.

The Girl in the Yellow Dress comes with input from the Glasgow Citizens, LIVE Theatre in Newcastle and the Market, Johannesburg; and Speechless with Shared Experience and Sherman Cymru;

The Traverse is on its own with Sam Holcroft's While You Lie and will have to carry the can for all its onstage excesses involving assisted masturbation, genital surgery, sexual sadism and unspeakable acts with a roast chicken.

Such a relief to get to the bar after that little caper. The staff are all wearing black T-shirts with an identical logo on the back: "Thank You For Coming."

The pleasure was all ours, and it's a lovely reminder of the title of founding Traverse director Jim Haynes's raunchy and free-wheeling autobiography. So I'm sure we'll all come again.


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