Skip to main content

Blackbird

Summerhall, Edinburgh
Four stars
It's almost a decade since David Harrower's relentless study of psychosexual politics between a fifty something man and the woman he had a sexual relationship fifteen years earlier when she was twelve premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival. Then, it broke taboos, however ambiguous its stance. Now, as the Hawick-based Firebrand company revive it for a mini tour of intimate spaces, in a post Jimmy Savile climate where 'paedo' is a standard playground insult and the vagaries of 1970s liberalism are being thrown back in their apparent advocates faces, Blackbird looks more troublingly relevant than ever.

Yet there's nothing exploitative when Romana Abercromby's Una bursts in on Greg Wagland's Ray at his work-place in Richard Baron's unflinchingly intimate production. Rather, there's an underlying sense of unfinished business, even as the mess the pair made of each other's lives seems to be summed up in the discarded pizza boxes on the floor. Una's girlishness comes alive when she spins on a broken swivel-chair, though her lengthy spewed-up confessional later suggests that girlishness has been corrupted forever. After initial terror of his past life being exposed, Ray too recognises the bond that lingers as they edge towards a damaging reconciliation.

With the lights up on the audience throughout, nothing is hidden on either side of the experience. Yet, despite the up close and personal scale of the action, it never feels small. There are moments, in fact, when the orchestrated linguistic ricochets of action and consequence feel positively operatic. Only the scenes of sex and violence need to be more unhinged in a doomed love story with an excess of complications laid bare even as it dares you to take sides.

The Herald, February 28th 2014


ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…