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

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…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …

High Society

Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Four stars

The stage looks gift-wrapped with a sparklingly expensive bow at the opening of John Durnin's revival of Arthur Kopit's Cole Porter based musical that reinvigorates the starry 1956 film where it originated. With the film itself drawing from Philip Barry's play, The Philadelphia Story, Kopit and Porter's depiction of the Long Island jet set says much about over-privileged party people, but retains a fizz that keeps it going till all passion is seemingly spent.
The action is based around the forthcoming nuptials of drop-dead gorgeous society gal and serial bride, Tracy Lord. With her daddy having run off with a show-girl, and ex beau next door CK Dexter Haven set sail for other shores, Tracy settles for George, a stinking rich would-be president for whom stupidity, as someone observes, sits on his shoulders like a crown. Enter Tracy's match-making kid sister Dinah and a pair of reporters for a trashy scandal sheet looking to stit…