Skip to main content

Fuelfest

Tramway, Glasgow
4 stars
The week-long residency at Tramway by maverick producers, Fuel, 
continued in the tone set by David Rosenberg’s opening sonic adventure, 
Ring, of invading our space and subverting our senses. The rest of the 
programme was by turns arresting, provocative and, at its best, deeply 
political, both on a personal and a global level.

Nowhere was this mashed up more than in Make Better Please, Unexpected 
Guests’ latest meditation on how we live now. This began with focus 
group style round-table discussions on news events of the day, and 
ended with a collective purging of the mess of twenty-first century 
secularised culture discussed earlier.

Following a succession of quick-fire role-plays, things grew 
increasingly frantic, as one of our hosts took on the sins of David 
Cameron, Jimmy Savile, George Osborne and all the rest. Pulsed along by 
a punk-style din, this was Unexpected Guests getting back to their and 
our roots, where the primitive power of the tribe put their faith in 
shamanic ritual to heal them. Such a collective release may not change 
anything, but in a work that is the contrasting light to Ring’s shade, 
it made for an exhilarating form of audience participation.

.One of our guides in Make Better Please was Lewis Gibson, who was also 
one of the artists in The Simple Things of Life, in which five artists 
created work in garden sheds. The full version scooped a Bank of 
Scotland Herald Angel Award in 2011. Two of the constructions – 
Gibson’s Lost in Words and Frauke Requardt’s appositely wordless 
Makiko’s Shed – moved into Tramway to allow audiences of eight to share 
their creators’ very private pleasures.

Gibson invited us in to a vintage world of 3D postcards viewed through 
old-school Viewfinders and a book group which allowed you to make your 
own narrative. Requardt filled his red-painted shed full of mirrors so 
performer Makiko Aoyama could see every flex, twirl and grimace as she 
jumped for joy and danced like her life depended on it.

On the surface, Inua Ellams’ solo play, Black T-Shirt Collection, was 
the most classically conventional of this Fuelfest grab-bag. Yet this 
startling and vividly told tale of two Nigerian foster brothers’ rise 
and fall via the customised t-shirt business that drives them was a 
culmination of all the Fuel roster’s concerns.

By having one brother Muslim, the other a Christian, there were already 
biblical implications to Ellams’ tale. Once Nigerian homophobia drives 
the brothers out from their market stall, first to Egypt, then London 
and the cheap Chinese sweat-shops beyond, a rich tapestry of corruption 
and exploitation is laid bare in a moral fable that may be ancient in 
content, but is made troublingly contemporary by Ellams’ reimagining.

With roots in the spoken-word scene, Ellams is a captivating presence, 
who lends both a  hipness and a seriousness of intent that’s 
accentuated by Emma Laxton’s sound design and Ellams’ own chalk-like 
graphics projected behind him. All this made for a truly startling 
performance that formed part of an even more inspirational week.

The Herald, November 26th 2012

ends


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

The Divide

King's Theatre
Four stars

Everything is black and white in Alan Ayckbourn's new play, a six hour two part epic set in a dystopian future where men and women are segregated from each other following the aftermath of an unspecified plague. Into this landscape, the secret diaries of brother and sister Elihu and Soween are brought to life by Jake Davies and Erin Doherty with a wide-eyed lightness of touch as their hormones get the better of them when they both hit puberty.
Annabel Bolton's production for the Old Vic, EIF and Karl Sydow begins with a TED Talk type lecture that reveals the back story to how things turned out this way. It ends with a sentimental love story designed to tug the heart-strings. Inbetween, there is teenage rebellion aplenty against the regime's institutionalised repression. Liberation comes through art and sex, which, in such extreme circumstances become even greater life forces.

With both plays told through the siblings' diaries alongside ass…