Skip to main content

Gulliver’s Travels - EIF 2012


Kings Theatre
4 stars
The women who whinny and canter like horses as the audience enter are a 
striking introduction to Romanian maestro Silviu Purcarete’s 
impressionistic interpretation of Jonathan Swift’s great satirical 
novel. It’s as if they’re higher beings on a catwalk, tantalisingly 
untouchable but irresistible too. The fact that this image of Swift’s 
Houyhnhnms is almost immediately upstaged by something even greater 
speaks volumes about Purcarete’s power to impress, even as the feral 
Yahoos – human beings in their basest form – move in en masse.

Taking the fourth book of Swift’s epic as his starting point, Purcarete 
maps out an absurd nightmare portrait of man’s inhumanity to man 
through two figures bookending the ages. As an old man is carted off to 
an institution, his storybook left behind, a little boy rides in on a 
wooden horse to pick up the pages. With the child onstage throughout, 
it’s as if the series of extravagant tableaux and ensemble-based 
sketches that follow are extracted from his imagination.

Babies are hammered to death and their innards served up as exotic 
delicacies. Giant rats scuttle about like a comic double-act. 
Bowler-hatted men in shadow attempt in vain to be bigger than they are. 
A puppet prostitute meets her match before she and her suitors depart 
with a miniature Can Can. Men in suits march in regimented unison like 
penguins before regressing into a primeval horde.

With barely a word spoken onstage other than a recorded narration, such 
audacious stage-play is pulsed along by Shaun Davey’s vivid minimalist 
score. Awash with and melancholy in equal measure, as the boy and the 
old man’s voyage ends, there’s an acceptance of life’s ugliness, even 
as the possibilities beyond await.

The Herald, August 18th 2012

ends



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Michael Rother - Sterntaler at 40

"There's so much to do," says an uncharacteristically flustered Michael Rother. The normally unflappably beatific German guitarist, composer and former member of Neu! and Harmonia, who also had a stint in a nascent Kraftwerk, is packing for live dates in Russia and the UK, including this weekend's show at the Queen Margaret Union in Glasgow.
"It has always been my choice to take care of these things myself and not have a manager," he says. "Somehow for me the independent aspect of doing things is really important, but it has its disadvantages."
As well as playing selections from Neu! and Harmonia, the trio he formed with Dieter Moebius and Hans Joachim Roedelius of Cluster, Rother's Glasgow date will see him play a fortieth anniversary rendering of his second solo album, Sterntaler, in full. Rother will be accompanied by guitarist Franz Bargmann and drummer Hans Lampe, the latter of whose musical involvement with Rother dates back to Neu! days, …

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…

Clybourne Park

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy Four Stars
It’s a case of whoops, there goes the neighbourhood twice over in Rapture Theatre’s revival of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which opens in 1959 in the same Chicago suburb where Lorraine Hansberry’s drama, A Raisin in the Sun, which appeared that year, is set. Here, Robin Kingsland’s Russ and his wife Bev, played by Jackie Morrison, are preparing to move out of their now almost empty des-res following a family tragedy.
Unknown to them, the bargain basement price tag has enabled a black family to move in, with Jack Lord’s uptight Karl a self-appointed spokesperson for the entire ‘hood. Russ and Bev’s black maid Francine (Adelaide Obeng) and her husband Albert (Vinta Morgan), meanwhile, bear witness to a barrage of everyday racism. Fast forward half a century, and a white family are trying to buy the same house, albeit with a heap of proposed changes which the black couple representing the block’s now much more diverse community aren’t…