Skip to main content

Invisible Empire

Summerhall
Three stars
An open door and an East European chorale that tugs five ways but
remains emotively harmonious is the scene-setter for the Glasgow-based
but Polish-inspired Company of Wolves ensemble's fifty minute
meditation on conformity, resistance and community. Involving music
from four countries, a frantic physicality and a fractured text drawn
from the writings of incarcerated Red Army Faction co-founder, Ulrike
Meinhof, Ewan Downie's production begins with the quintet acting in
near robotic unison before rising up one by one to rebel against, well,
anything that's going, really.

This may be just a passing phase of restless youth, however, even as
the sound of metal chairs scraped slowly across the floor becomes a
little atonal symphony. Later, the same chairs are beaten with uniform
ferocity. Only when a man possessed has his demons sucked out of him
with a prolonged kiss do things change into something both more
individual and more accepting of others.

It's a committed, meticulously choreographed and orchestrated affair
that is working towards a ritualistic aesthetic that nevertheless
remains rooted in the real world. While the voices and physical tics
remain disparate and unique, there's an instinctive recognition that
ultimately only collective, co-dependent action can change things, and
that love as much as anger is vital to achieve such a goal.

For the moment, at least, it's the vocal musical arrangements by Downie
with performer Anna Porubcansky that gives Invisible Empire its
strength. The arrangements sound by turns mournful and defiant, and
when the final collective howl comes as the world slowly dims around
the performers gathered in an ever tightening circle, it's a cry from
the dark that lingers.

The Herald, April 29th 2014
ends

Comments

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…

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…

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…