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Vic Godard & Subway Sect – Beyond Rock and Roll

October 15, 2016. Onstage at the Wee Red Bar, ostensibly Edinburgh College of Art's student union but so much more besides, the living legend that is Vic Godard is baring his soul. The louche frontman of Subway Sect, whose support slot to The Clash on the Edinburgh Playhouse date of the iconic headliners' May 1977 White Riot tour effectively spawned what became known as the Sound of Young Scotland, has just sung backing vocals to his own song, Ambition, as performed by The Sexual Objects.

The Sexual Objects, of course, are fronted by Davy Henderson, one of those in attendance at the Edinburgh Playhouse show. His incendiary band, Fire Engines, were key figures in Scotland's post-punk renaissance, before morphing into glossy New Pop pioneers Win. Henderson got back to basics with The Nectarine No 9, then embraced all that’s sublime about rock music with the Sexual Objects. And now here they are, playing Ambition while the song's visionary writer takes…
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Eve Jamieson - Jean Genet and The Maids

When Eve Jamieson was invited to direct Jean Genet's play, The Maids, at Dundee Rep, it wasn't the regular experience for an incoming director. While Jamieson has more than thirty years theatrical experience behind her, the Rep's ensemble company are a tight-knit group, and Irene Macdougall, Ann Louise Ross and Emily Winter, who appear in Jamieson's production, which opens tonight, have been working together cheek by jowl for eighteen years.

Given that power structures lie at the heart of Genet's play about two put-upon sisters who fantasise about killing their mistress, such existing intimacy might well have thrown up some accidental but hopefully not fatal parallels. As it is, Jamieson has used the close relationship between her three female leads to the show's advantage.

“There's a fearlessness there,” says Jamieson, mid-way through talking about her production the day after the show's first preview. “Normally, the director is the one who brings th…

Sue Tompkins – Country Grammar – A Film by Luke Fowler

The Modern Institute Airds Lane, Glasgow until November 4th 2017
Four stars

Anyone who has ever witnessed a performance by Sue Tompkins will be familiar with her dynamic delivery of fragmented texts, be it solo in gallery spaces or as vocalist with seminal turn of the century Glasgow-based quartet, Life Without Buildings. Luke Fowler's films have adopted a similar cut and paste approach to transforming more straightforward documentary footage into something more poetic.
This second collaboration between the pair sees Fowler filming Tompkins in the recording studio as she lays down a version of Country Grammar, one of her earliest performance pieces, which dates from 2003. Rather than adopt a make-believe verite approach, Fowler disrupts the process in various ways, from having sound and vision exist independently from each other to making the camera appear to be jumping up and down. This echoes the playful physicality of Tompkins' performance, which here uses two different mic…

Hedda Gabler

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

A woman in a dressing gown sits at an incongruous looking piano, bashing out a discordant melody in an empty grey room. The opening image in Ivo van Hove's touring revival of Henrik Ibsen's 1891 dissection of domestic power is either the glistening epitome of Zen minimalist chic or else just, well, empty. A maid sits to one side awaiting instructions, while the floor is loaded with house-warming flowers. Nothing has found its place yet, least of all Hedda, who is trapped in a room most definitely not of her own.
As played by Lizzy Watts, and surrounded by men in suits who only want to mansplain, objectify, control and abuse her, Hedda is barely able to suppress the urge to take charge of both herself and everybody else. All of which is inadvertently close to the bone right now in Van Hove's National Theatre production. Aided by Patrick Marber's lean new version of the play and Jan Versweyveld's ice-cool design, this contemp…

Ivo van Hove, Patrick Marber and Lizzie Watts - Hedda Gabler

When Ivo Van Hove's production of Hedda Gabler first appeared at the Royal National Theatre in London towards the end of 2016, as with much of the Flemish director's work, audiences were left reeling by his reinvention of a familiar classic. Henrik Ibsen's play about a woman trapped in a loveless marriage was already considered radical when it first appeared in 1891, both for its realism and its proto-feminist subject. Van Hove's production of a new version by Patrick Marber takes an even more daring leap into the twenty-first century, even as it remains faithful to Ibsen's original.

With Ruth Wilson taking the title role during the show's London run, for the UK tour that opens in Edinburgh tonight prior to dates in Aberdeen and Glasgow, Lizzie Watts steps into Hedda's shoes. The production also marks the third time Van Hove has directed the play, following productions in New York in 2004, and in Amsterdam in 2006 with his own Toneelgroep company.

“Some p…

Brothers Karamazov

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Three stars

Brotherly love is in abundance in writer Richard Crane and director Faynia Willliams' staging of Dostoyevsky's epic 900 page novel, a philosophical treatise on church, state and family. The spiritual, psychological and emotional consequences of murder on such a terminally dysfunctional clan are also apparent. First seen at the Edinburgh Festival in 1981, Crane and Williams' revived collaboration puts just four actors onstage to tell all this over a mere two hours in a transcendent family reunion.
With all four siblings entering through the auditorium singing, this is about as harmonious as things get, as mercurial Dmitry, rationalist Ivan, youngest and most wide eyed of the brood Alyosha and illegitimate runt of the litter Smerdyakov gather. What follows is a soap opera that also fires a moral and ethical debate en route to some kind of enlightenment.

Set inside a construction that is part bearpit, part lecture theatre, on one level, Wil…

James Ley - Love Song to Lavender Menace

James Ley had never heard of Lavender Menace when he won an LGBT History Month Scotland Cultural Commission award to write a new play. While Edinburgh's pioneering gay book shop that existed between 1982 and 1987 before reinventing itself in new premises as West and Wilde wasn't on Ley's radar, he had vaguely heard of the Gentlemen's Head Quarters, the nickname for the public toilet that existed at the east end of Princes Street outside Register House. He was also half aware of Fire Island, the legendary gay nightclub that existed at the west end of Princes Street in a space that now forms the top floor of Waterstone's book shop.

As he discovered, Fire Island was a central focal point for what was then a still largely underground gay scene in Edinburgh's capital. Alongside the likes of the Laughing Duck pub on Howe Street, Fire Island was one of the few places where HI-NRG music could be heard in what would these days be dubbed a safe space for gay men and wo…