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Re:Union

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
2 stars
7:84 Scotland’s decline is partly to do with the current company’s insistence on trading on a history they have only a sentimental secondhand attachment to. This not only weighs down each new outing with unnecessary baggage, but, as this quartet of plays commemorating the 300th anniversary of the Act Of Union proves, also highlights the ongoing failure of this country’s theatrical community to engage with contemporary politics in any significant manner. No amount of actors performing in unflattering company logo-ed tops changes that fact.

Four writers, Nicola McCartney, Haresh Sharma, Selma Dimitrijevic and Linda McLean, each draw on a significant moment of world history. The Irish civil war in 1921, the declaration of Pakistani independence in 1947, the 1991 Croatian war, and, finally, some imagined Scottish future, are viewed from a modern domestic perspective. Sharma’s contribution, Eclipse, charts a Pakistani boy’s sense of identity by looking to his father’s past, and A Time To Go by Dimitrijevic finds a father and son making their peace. McLean’s Doch-An-Doris is a kind of booze-fuelled family counselling session, while McCartney’s piece, Wound, finds an adopted girl’s anger spilling over into violence.

Where Sharma and Dimitrijevic’s contributions are sensitively realised, McLean’s piece is an extended one-liner and McCartney’s too hysterically-pitched from the off. These are rehearsal-room exercises done badly on a distractingly noisy set. Given that most companies were making bedfellows of the personal and the political a decade ago, Lorenzo Mele and Jo Ronan’s production is also too little, too late. Even with its specific pre-election context, how such flimsy material hopes to ‘affect policy making decisions’ as its press release pompously claims, is anybody’s guess.

The Herald - April 16th 2007

ends

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