Skip to main content

On Behalf of Nature

Royal Lyceum Theatre
four stars
The natural world in all its glory is celebrated in Meredith Monk's remarkable seventy-five minute dramatic meditation performed by her and her nine-strong Vocal Ensemble for Monks return to Edinburgh International Festival. With a live marimba-led score which moves from rhythmic codas to frantic little bursts of out-of-wackness, Monk and co flap around the stage in set-pieces of unadorned Zen choreography, chirruping in call and response harmony as they go.

With the performers dressed in what looks like pioneer-type outfits, at times their gambolling looks like a hoe-down in Eden. At other, more intimate moments., their propless mimesis flutters into being with a stark beauty. There are solos, duos and ensemble-based miniatures, each one an impressionistic thumbnail sketch of birds, trees, bees and other wildlife rendered in physical terms occasionally upended by outside forces.

There are clear parallels here, both thematically and stylistically, with Philip Glass' score for Koyaanisquatsi, Godfrey Reggio's big screen meditation on the relationship between the natural world and the big bad city. In Monk's hands, however, such concerns are rendered through a combinatioin of dance, music and a kind of physical calm that soothes and heals a wounded planet even as it reasserts its place within it.

A filmed back-drop shows all of Mother Nature's wonders, from flowers and animals to the sheer joy of a couple kissing in the most natural, non-virtual act on the planet. The bells that peal at the close of play aren't a memoriam. Rather, they are sounding out the quietest call to arms for every man, woman and child to get back to nature and start living right again.

The Herald, August 20th 2013


ends  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…

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…

Bdy_Prts

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Saturday December 2nd


It should probably come as no surprise that professional dancers are in the audience for the Edinburgh leg of this mini tour by spectral performance art/pop auteurs Bdy_Prts on the back of the release of their sublime debut album, The Invisible Hero. Beyond the music, the raison d’etre of Bdy_Prts’ dynamic duo of Jill O'Sullivan and Jenny Reeve, after all, is a flamboyantly costumed display of kinetic physical jerks and modernist shape-throwing to illustrate a set of fizzing machine-age chorales.

In this sense, the Bdy_Prts live experience is several works of art for the price of one that's a long way from the pair's formative work fronting Sparrow and the Workshop (O'Sullivan) and Strike the Colours (Reeve). Part living sculptures, part Bloomsbury Group super-heroines, part widescreen pop fabulists, O'Sullivan and Reeve paint their faces with ancient symbols and sport customised shoulder pads that look both seasonally …