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Tryst

Engoyholmen, Stavanger 2008
4 stars
There’s a brand new boat docked at Engoyholmen, the tiny island a short sail away from Stavanger in Norway, where it was built as part of an ongoing project enabling young people to focus their energies into acts both creative and practical. The boat, launched last week, was named Meriel, after an unseen but crucial character in this latest outing by Edinburgh-based site-specific theatrical iconoclasts, Grid Iron, who were commissioned to create a new work for Stavanger’s year as European Capital of Culture. It’s a fitting legacy to a show that’s about the sea’s power to rock two couples seemingly idyllic world.

The play begins on another boat, which transports the audience across to Engoyholmen’s large wooden interior, where most of the play is presented promenade-fashion. Here actor David Ireland bursts out of the ferry’s luggage hold beneath the seats looking like some crazed sea captain as he regales us with his chronicle of a death foretold to Conrad Ivitsky-Molleson’s live harmonica score. Once disembarked, we watch Iona and Otto and Yann and Lyra as if peering into a goldfish bowl showing off a criss-crossing series of flashbacks. In-between ripple literary-sourced fables that lead to heartbreak, betrayal and one final tragedy.

Performed largely in English, this is a grimly sensuous melange that looks somewhere between Las von Trier and The Brothers Grimm, where mermaids resemble 1930s flappers and waves flow like jewels. Wrapped around such beautiful images in Ben Harrison’s production, however, are too many words, and with the more naturalistic scenes played as heightened as the stories, more light, shade and less self-conscious writing would benefit a still serious voyage into some very dark waters.

The Herald, October 24th 2008

ends

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