Skip to main content

In Time O' Strife

Pathhead Halls, Kirkcaldy
Five stars
The bar is open, the tables are out and the band are playing like
dervishes at a living-room hoolie as the audience file into the
community hall where Joe Corrie's grim realist play about the effects
of the seven month miner's strike that followed the 1926 General Strike
had on the Fife pit-head community. A framed picture of Corrie hangs
above the serving hatch and there's a speak-easy vibe to proceedings.
When a little girl stands at the microphone after fiddler Jennifer
Reeve has introduced Corrie's play and starts singing sweetly about
hanging black-legs before the seven-strong cast of this thrilling new
take on the play dance in vigorous unison to a thunderous indie-folk
arrangement of one of Corrie's songs, you know it's as vitally
contemporary and as far removed from old-time melodrama as is possible.

Director and adaptor Graham McLaren has put music and dance at the
play's heart, with a live soundtrack, composed and performed by Michael
John McCarthy's four-piece band, and Imogen Knights' choreography
crucial elements that display how song and dance can bind people. The
story itself, about a family torn apart by the strike, is a
gut-wrenchingly emotional experience, and there are some wonderful
performances from Hannah Donaldson and Owen Whitelaw as the central

While never overplayed, watching archive film footage of the pitched
battles between police and miners during the Battle of Orgreave in the
1984 miners strike brings Corrie's message chillingly home. As does the
closing rendition of The Red Flag. Anyone who thinks the song an
anachronism should witness this version, which is by turns mournful,
defiant, furious, triumphal and the most necessary song of today.

The Herald, October 7th 2013


Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…


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 …