Thursday, 20 June 2013

Paul Bright's Confessions of A Justified Sinner

Tramway, Glasgow
4 stars
There are those who will swear they were there at all six episodes of 
the radical site-specific theatricalisation of James Hogg's nineteenth 
century novel at the fag end of the 1980s. For most of us, however, all 
we have are the meticulously detailed archive exhibited en route to the 
auditorium and actor George Anton's lovingly told if possibly 
unreliable memoir about one Paul Bright. According to Anton and the 
role-call of theatrical luminaries who appear paying homage on-screen, 
Bright was a counter-cultural iconoclastic savant, who blazed a brief 
and chaotic trail from the back rooms of pubs to Mayfest and the 
Edinburgh International Festival, before crashing and burning in the 
ultimate act of avant-garde self-destruction.

In Stewart Laing's production of Pamela Carter's script for this 
co-production between Laing's Untitled Projects, the National Theatre 
of Scotland and Tramway, Anton presents all this found material as a 
performed lecture that becomes a kind of personal purging. Of course, 
in a self-consciously meta-work of art imitating life like this, there 
are times when it resembles a grand theatrical in-joke which at times 
veers into Spinal Tap or I, An Actor territory.

Yet, as Anton himself observes from his apparent reminiscences, he is 
an actor whose job is to tell lies for a living to get to the truth of 
things, however painful. In this sense, the mirror images of Anton and 
Bright become the conscience and protectors of an artistic world that 
existed before market forces muscled it out of history. At it's heart, 
then, here is a play that reclaims a radical past  to give it voice 
again.

The Herald, June 20th 2013

ends

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