An archive of arts writing by Neil Cooper.
Effete No Obstacle.
Search This Blog
Steven Severin – Vampyr
Cameo Cinema, Edinburgh Thursday January 12th 2012 3 stars
The man with the flowing white hair walks towards a small table and
chair to one side of the Cameo's big screen. Sporting a long black
winter coat and carrying a glass of red wine, the man looks as if he's
stepped in from another, altogether darker age of shadows and light.
Especially when juxtaposed against the shiny silver Macbook perched on
the table which he sits himself down before. Such a clash of time-zones
may be accidental, but it's the perfect introduction to former Siouxsie
and the Banshees bass player Steven Severin's contemporary live score
for Vampyr, Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1932 study in parasitic possession,
in which young fogey Allan Grey blank-walks his way into saving the
lives of a pair of once-bitten sisters.
Because Severin's use of brooding synth shards that ooze in and out
provides a delicious counterpoint to Dreyer's consciously over-egged
visual signifiers, which bridge Victorian melodrama and high-end
expressionism. Ushered in by bells, a recurring theme for Allan, and
even some dance-band jauntiness, Severin's latest score in his Music
For Silents series following treatments of works by Germaine Dulac,
Robert Wiene and Jean Cocteau lends even more menace than Wolfgang
Zeller's original in an intensely brooding and at times
sepulchral-sounding affair, that's wholly serious in intent and
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…
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.
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…
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 …