Citizens Theatre, Glasgow 4 stars There's something astonishing about this rare double bill of short plays by Caryl Churchill, if only to get some kind of insight into how this most singular of writers mind works. In Far Away, first seen in 2000, a young girl is exposed to the brutality of a war which becomes increasingly extreme. At first, Lucy Hollis' Joan appears to be an evacuee who witnesses her uncle doling out violence to a lorry-load of refugees, only to be co-opted into a conspiracy of silence by her aunt. By the end, she's in the thick of a conflict which has corrupted the planet so much that even nature and the animal kingdom are taking sides. Seagulls, which dates from 1978, is less elliptical in its observation of how raw talent can be corrupted by celebrity. Kathryn Howden's Valery is able to move objects with her mind, and, with her manager Di in tow, is about to launch a rocket for charity in front of a huge audience before being investigated by scientists at Harvard. Except, with the pressure on, she can't perform. Director Dominic Hill has pulled out all the stops here, with Far Away in particular a technical marvel which has each scene punctuated by designer Neil Haynes' huge corrugated iron doors sliding open and shut as Scott Twynholm's dissonant industrial score plays. A mid-scene fashion parade proves even more jaw-dropping. The plays themselves, featuring a set of wonderfully nuanced performances from Hollis, Howden, Alasdair Hankinson and Maureen Carr, are fiercely moral fables, even as they're shot through with a wry wit. It's Valery's moment of stillness at the end of Seagulls, however, that's most telling.
The Herald, May 27th 2013 ends