Skip to main content

Soul Sister

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
3 stars
Before the irresistible rise of the juke-box musical, the rock and roll tribute show was king. Queen too if this warts and all Tina Turner homage is anything to go by, as devisers Pete Brooks and John Miller reclaim the form's simple but effective attributes in Brooks' co-production with Bob Eaton. Eaton is a safe pair of hands, having defined the rock and roll musical while running Liverpool's Everyman Theatre. It is significant there is no writer's credit in what amounts to a strip cartoon summation of church-going teenager Anna Mae Bullock's rise, fall and subsequent reinvention in what's now regarded as Turner's 1980s heyday.

This was initially down to Bullock meeting one Ike Turner, a driven musical genius smart enough to see the potential in Bullock's voice enough to put her centre stage. As the pair become entwined personally as well as professionally, Turner's ambition turns to rage, misogyny, drug addiction and wife-beating. This is played out here against a back-drop of American social and political upheaval, with quick-fire archive footage of Martin Luther King, JFK, Malcolm X and Vietnam played out against newly filmed narrative links to speed the action along. Turner's own emancipation comes via a form of trickle-down feminism that allows her to really find her voice.

While the audience boo Ike like a panto villain come early, it's the numbers they came for, and the cast, led by a tirelessly vivacious Emi Wokoma as Tina, give it the full-on soul revue treatment. At times it's as if an old episode of Ready, Steady Go had been brought to life in a fast-moving piece of pop theatre with a social conscience.

The Herald, December 5th 2012

ends


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

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…

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…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

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.

For 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…