Skip to main content

The Infamous Brothers Davenport

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
4 stars
The audience are not only on their feet but are onstage inspecting the 
giant cabinet that dominates on entering this fiercely ambitious 
collaboration between Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison's Vox Motus 
company, playwright Peter Arnott and the Royal Lyceum. The conceit is a 
piece of Victorian hokum, in which the two Davenports of the title, Ira 
and Willie, conjure up spirits from within their cabinet under the 
half-lit scrutiny of a 'scientific spiritualist society'. Introduced by 
the grandiloquent Mr Fay under the watchful eye of the desperately 
seeking Lady Noyes-Woodhull, Willie, the younger of the two, is 
apparently possessed by his dead sister Katie as his spirit guide in a 
seance. When Willie goes off message, however, truth becomes far 
stranger than ghost stories.

As the spirit cabinet opens up, this reimagining of the real-life 
Davenports story lays bare the roots of their act in a damaged, 
bare-floorboards childhood, in which a hopped-up mother hallucinates 
heaven while a brutal father abuses Katie to death. The psycho-sexual 
scars are plain to see, particularly in Willie, as played by a 
whey-faced Scott Fletcher opposite his brother Ryan as a more 
practical, if perpetually perplexed Ira.

The first half-hour's box of vaudevillian tricks are but a 
curtain-raiser to what follows in a big, technically complex piece of 
Freudian expressionism, the very essence of which is about blind faith, 
hope and the power of suggestion. Accompanied by Phamie Gow and Jed 
Milroy's live piano and fiddle score, and with much emphasis on light 
and shade, Vox Motus have created a spine-tinglingly serious treatise 
on what the imagination might be capable of if we only let our demons 
out.

The Herald - January 26th 2012

ends 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

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…

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…