Skip to main content

The Soldier’s Tale

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
3 stars
Faustian pacts are everywhere just now. After Headlong’s post-modern cut-up of Brit-art soul-selling in Dundee last week, The Academy of St Martin In The Fields go back to World War One for Stravinsky’s similarly audacious piece of boutique musical theatre. Composed in 1918 with a libretto by novelist Charles Ferdinand Ramuz, as director Lawrence Evans makes clear in his extensive programme notes, this is different from both Marlowe and Goethe’s creations in that Ramuz and Stravinsky’s hero is tricked into putting his soul in hock rather than going willingly.

The Soldier’s violin becomes a symbol of purity, with the metaphor pushed even further by having an actor who plays the fiddle for real take the title role. Played alongside the Academy’s seven-piece ensemble, who step in and out of the action at various points, such authenticity lends depth to Anthony Marwood’s turn, even when forced to mouth a text which at times sounds unavoidably stilted in its English language translation.

As designer as well as director, Evans does everything in his power to de-formalise proceedings, from having Walter Van Dyk’s narrator enter through the audience wielding an umbrella to onstage projections of archive newsreel footage alongside portents of the future such as the Millenium Dome. Agnes Vanrepote’s Princess and Ian Woodhouse’s Devil skip about with a choreographed abandon that’s sometimes too busy for what’s being delivered.

Beyond commenting on the relationship between war and money, the music is the star here. The arrangements scored for violin, double bass, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone and percussion are evocatively and exquisitely delivered in a portable chamber piece that never quite transcends the restraints of its form.

The Herald, November 19th 2007

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

The Divide

King's Theatre
Four stars

Everything is black and white in Alan Ayckbourn's new play, a six hour two part epic set in a dystopian future where men and women are segregated from each other following the aftermath of an unspecified plague. Into this landscape, the secret diaries of brother and sister Elihu and Soween are brought to life by Jake Davies and Erin Doherty with a wide-eyed lightness of touch as their hormones get the better of them when they both hit puberty.
Annabel Bolton's production for the Old Vic, EIF and Karl Sydow begins with a TED Talk type lecture that reveals the back story to how things turned out this way. It ends with a sentimental love story designed to tug the heart-strings. Inbetween, there is teenage rebellion aplenty against the regime's institutionalised repression. Liberation comes through art and sex, which, in such extreme circumstances become even greater life forces.

With both plays told through the siblings' diaries alongside ass…