The Arches, Glasgow
3 stars Agent 160 don’t do things by halves. Or at least that’s the impression from this inaugural project from this newly constituted UK-wide women’s writer led company. Over two nights, twelve new playlets by the same number of writers were presented on the final dates of a three-leg mini-tour. If the quality and verve of the scripts on the first night came even close to Part Two, then artistic director Lisa Parry and dramaturg Louise Stephens Alexander have tapped into something special.
In the first half, Branwen Davies’ Genki? is a Welsh bi-lingual study of one woman finding herself abroad, The Red Shoes is Sarah Grochala’s estuarised fantasia concerning a teenage mum finding consumer comfort of a fantastical kind, and A Modest Proposal by Lindsay Rodden looks to Animal Farm in a warzone. The second half opens with Parry’s own piece, Nancy, in which a middle England grand dame squares up to the recession as well as the rabbits in what’s left of her garden; Skin; Or How To Disappear Completely, by Morna Pearson, finds a long term benefit case and his assessor slipping through the cracks; and Ioanna Anderson’s How To Be A Pantomime Horse is a two-woman psychological disaster movie.
While rough and not always ready, hearing such a diverse array of voices is a joy. What is encouraging too is both how political all of the pieces are, and the urgency with which the work is delivered. With three directors overseeing six actors, there’s a tantalising richness to all plays. But it’s Pearson’s miniature masterpiece that shines her, as it subverts social realism in a damaged duologue akin to a Doric Tennessee Williams. The Herald, February 27th 2012