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