Skip to main content

Paul Rooney – Lost High Street

Collective Gallery, Edinburgh – May 31 – July 12 2008
It’s a good life on the buses. Ask Paul Rooney, whose alter-ego revisits his alma mater via the tourist route on an open-topped double-decker in this newly commissioned video installation, which plays on the sort of wood-finish screen every des-res aspired to in the three-channel age.

Like a VHS version of Lindsay Anderson’s ‘The White Bus’, which sent ‘A Taste Of Honey’ writer Shelagh Delaney’s own imagined self on an impressionistic voyage round her native Salford, Rooney’s journey isn’t so much into some urban heart of darkness, but visits a leaf-lined, heritage-industry limbo where the ghosts of wartime spies lurk.

Unlike ‘The White Bus,’ there are no stopping off points in ‘Lost High Street.’ Rather Rooney is trapped on some Sisyphean Groundhog Day, sentenced to traverse the streets of Edinburgh forever, undercover and in danger of being shot by both sides, whoever they might be.

Such first-person interior monologues are the raison-detre of Rooney, who last graced MAP’s pages with ‘Lucy Over Lancashire,’ a 12-inch single on which an imagined sprite regaled her lusty tale of life and death trapped within the record’s grooves. A more formal narrative is contained in ‘Failing That,’ the published text that formed part of his recent ‘La Decision Doypack’ show at Matt’s Gallery in London. Even more ambitious, ‘The Pendular Destabiliser Show,’ a new sound-based work at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, imagines two Paris ’68 radicals arguing through a hole in the wall.

‘Lost High Street’ is more personal, a nostalgic wander through old haunts Rooney’s character can no longer visit, but only see life through a lens as if occupying some shaky-handed DIY Cold War flick. Its spindly punk theme song, ‘performed’ by tour guide Aileen, could be a kindred spirit of Lucy’s, and suggests a kind of Rooney-verse, parallel or not, in which all his characters will eventually connect up to create some kind of six degrees of separation soap opera.

Accompanying ‘Lost High Street,’ ‘Monster’ dates from 2004, and was filmed in Melbourne, Australia. As filmed street scenes are reflected into mirrors either side of the scene, a male Australian voice recounts what may be the collected works of imagined poet Ern Malley. The result is a quasi-Whickeresque travelogue which, if you stand just-so, gives the viewer a glimpse of infinity which Rooney-verse is already orbiting.

MAP issue 15, July 2008

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…