15 MARCH 1975, Page 26

Will Waspe

Having drawn attention last week to some National Theatre extravagance over footwear, Waspe feels almost impelled to congratulate the Royal Shakespeare Company on an ostensible move in the direction of economy. The production of Macbeth, now at London's Aldwych Theatre, is so much less extravagant than the version seen last year at Stratford-upon-Avon that its leading lady, Helen Mirren, may have been too embarrassed to exhibit herself in London in the sort of elaborately mounted show that she lately complained of so strenuously.

Alas no real economy was involved: on the contrary, austere though the production now looks, its furbishment actually involved the RSC in additional expenditure on top of that for the original sets and trappings which were left behind at Stratford, The chances are that director Trevor Nunn has merely taken to heart the panning he got last year for setting the play in those ornately ecclesiastical surroundings.

New word, old play

Speaking of 'panning,' I presume you know what the word means. The management of the Royal Court Theatre, oddly, would make no such presumption. In a glossary of 'Australian' terms included in the programme for David Williamson's Don's Party they felt obliged to define it, straight-facedly, as "an unfavourable or hostile critical response." In case, by the way, you imagine Don's Party to be a recent work by Williamson, and thus perhaps a more professionally mature piece than those for which he has previously been praised in London (The Removalists and What If You • Died Tomorrow?), it is fair to observe that this is an earlier play. And looks it.

Decision reversed

A couple of weeks ago I ran an item about the Arts Council allocating £40,000 to subsidise some sort of street-theatre free-for-all, with fiasco written all over it, in the Covent Garden flower market in the summer. There may, of course, have been no connection between the item and the fact that the Arts Council last week decided it would not, after all, be handing out any grant for the event.