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Somersaults

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
3 stars
James is a man who left Lewis for London, made a mint on computer games
and became a twenty-first century self-made metropolitan man. Now,
however, he’s in meltdown. Having quit his job, lost his wife and been
declared bankrupt, he attempts to get back to the roots he can barely
remember anymore. Old university chums found on Facebook don’t help.
James can’t even recall the Gaelic word for somersault, so does them
out instead, defining himself by an action where a long-neglected
language used to live.

This is the rich and complex tapestry behind Iain Finlay Macleod’s new
play for the National Theatre of Scotland’s Reveal season, set in a
square-shaped and shrouded sandpit where past and present
impressionistically rub up against each other as James tries to find
himself anew, even as a gimlet-eyed accountant sells off his assets.
Vicky Featherstone’s production lets loose a tantalising meditation on
the struggle to retain one’s language and identity in a modern world
where majority rules.

Advertised as a Platform Production – an awkward hybrid between a work
in progress and the finished article – it nevertheless looks more
complete and appears to have had more resources lavished on it than
most small-scale touring shows can muster And frankly, the play
deserves it, especially after Tony Kearney’s James has ripped down the
walls that hemmed him in, and the five actors sit among the audience
with the lights up. Addressing us directly in turn, the hard facts of
self-preservation hit home in an understated but powerfully direct
fashion. This lurch into direct address effectively splinters the
play’s form just as James has been torn in this oddly fascinating work.

The Herald, March 14th 2011

ends

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