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My Shrinking Life


Tron Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars
Alison Peebles is on her feet for the entire eighty-five minutes of her 
new show, devised with Belgian director Lies Pauwels and an ensemble of 
three dance artists and a little girl for the National Theatre of 
Scotland. For this most charismatic of actors, it must be agony. Not 
for having to carry this defiantly impressionistic meditation on her 
life as a performer who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis twelve 
years ago, although that must be hard enough.

Rather, for a woman who confesses her love for shoes but who can’t wear 
high heels anymore, having to watch lithe young bodies stretch, 
pirouette and cavort with choreographed perfection from the front 
corner of the stage must add insult to an injury that’s not of her 
making.

This, though, is the point of the exercise, which puts the body politic 
centre-stage in a series of routines underscored by a jukebox full of 
early 1960s pop hits, and played out in a mint-coloured room with a 
glass-fronted pink boudoir at the back. The little girl sports a 
sparkly scarlet dress as she announces a potted history of Peebles’ 
wild years. One of the performers dressed as a ballerina spins out of 
control, showing off injuries of her own. Another howls into a 
microphone, while the sole male onstage dances in the same scarlet 
frock.

If this is all post-modern showbiz, only the bobbed figure of Peebles 
in a dressing-gown is for real. Led carefully out in heels once more, 
as she turns physical debilitation into a fiercely defiant work of art, 
the pleasure on Peebles’ face as she gets to walk tall once more is an 
image to treasure.

The Herald, September 14th 2012

ends



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