Thursday, 16 May 2013

As It Is

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars
On a bare stage seated beneath striplights, actor Damir Todorovic is wired up to a lie detector. Sitting opposite him is fellow performer Pauline Goldsmith, who wields a pen over the graph paper that charts Todorovic's responses to the questions she asks him about events preserved in a twenty-year old diary. The needles that judder into life with each response are subsequently beamed onto a large screen behind the pair, allowing the audience to scrutinise the possible fictions of their exchange. Serbian by birth, and well known to Scottish audiences from his appearances in several of Vanishing Point's large-scale works, Todorovic has already told us he was a soldier in the 1993 Balkan War, and wants to see if it's possible to live without lies.

Whether his line of inquiry succeeds or not depends on whether you believe some of the uncomfortable details which Goldsmith's interrogation throws up in what initially looks more like a psychological experiment than a piece of theatre. As Goldsmith's gimlet-eyed and increasingly stern line of questioning pushes Todorovic to account for actions which may or may not have happened, in the deathly quiet auditorium, it's no surprise that all eyes are on the screen as we await a simple yes or no.

Commissioned by the Belluard Bollwerk International Festival and presented in this English language version at the Tron by Vanishing Point as part of Mayfesto, Todorovic has created a tense, intense, discomforting and fascinating hour. In the end, whatever the truth of it, as it condenses drama down to the most basic conflict, it transcends the roots of Todorovic's story to make for a relentless and riveting experience.

The Herald, May 16th 2013


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