Skip to main content

Para Handy – A Voyage Round The Stories of Neil Munro

Eden Court Theatre, Inverness
3 stars
Hard hats and fluorescent bibs are de rigeur down at Inverbeg Council
Recycling Depot at the opening of John Bett's musical reimagining of
some of Neil Munro's boat-bound yarns involving the saltiest of
sea-dogs. Bett's rough-hewn co-production between Eden Court and the
Open Book company looks to his own theatrical roots with 7:84 and
Wildcat as a rudder for this ribald compendium.

For those who may not know the legend, Para Handy is captain of pre
World War One puffer boat the SS Vital Spark. With first mate Dougie,
deckhand Sunny Jim and engineer Macphail in tow, adventures are many as
the crew navigate their way through the Clyde's nether-most reaches.
Once Bett's modern-day framing device is done away with, a busy melee
of song, archive film footage and silent movie style captions are
ushered in amidst an array of sketch-like scenes. These feature a
role-call of comic grotesques in what looks like an extended sit-com
that's burst rudely into life.

The result, once things calm down, is a series of fruitily Runyonesque
encounters, with the fly likes of Jimmy Yuill's Hurricane Jack, whose
courtship of Helen Mackay's Janice Toner-like Peaches McGlumpher is
played with relish. As soundtracked by Robert Pettigrew's live folk
band, such close-up duologues are when things work best, with Para's
own attempts at wooing Annie Grace's evasive Mary Crawford over tea and
buns an absolute hoot. Jimmy Chisholm's Para is played infinitely less
pop-eyed than his TV predecessors, with Peter Kelly camping up
book-worm Macphail for all it's worth in a fun if less than perfect
outing.

The Herald, September 26th 2011

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …