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Verdant Works, Dundee
4 stars
The fascinations of Grid Iron are manifold. In previous site-specific works Gargantua and The Devil’s Larder, the Edinburgh based company have ravished our senses with body-centric feasts based on sex, food and other delights. So it is with this latest knitted-together compendium conceived around the idea of clothes and their intrinsic meaning. Director Ben Harrison has taken material from Louise Bourgeois, Henry James and Thomas Carlyle, and fused it with some very candid auto-biographical scenes that leave the six actors metaphorically if not actually naked.

As we’re led through the industrial splendour of the Verdant Works old jute mill, beyond the buttoned-up men in grey for whom everything’s black and white is a dressing-up-box in which every garment tells a story. From the totemic qualities of an old coat, a scarf or some long lost hand-me-downs, we’re led along catwalks and through an oversize wardrobe into Mr Benn style adventures, where a glimpse of stocking, fur coat and no knickers are more than mere decoration. Beyond wedding night fingers and thumbs and cheap threads, however, is even cheaper labour.

It’s been interesting watching Grid Iron add an explicitly political dimension to their output over the last couple of years, much of it gleaned from extensive work in the middle east. So we get war correspondents in disguise and photo-ops of how to get from burka to blindfold in five easy steps. What we’re left with in this co-production with Dundee Rep is classic Grid Iron with an edge, which rips through layers of human artifice to get to the heart of the matter. They wear it well, on their sleeves and everywhere else.

The Herald, April 25th 2008

ends

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