Thursday, 15 May 2014

Unmastered, Remastered

CCA, Glasgow
Four stars
A multi-dimensional playground of TV monitors, projector screens and
lap-tops is the back-drop for this dramatic rendering of Katherine
Angel's remarkable book, Unmastered. First published in 2012, Angel's
first-person narrative is part love story, part confessional, part
feminist theory made flesh and part getting of wisdom that takes in
sex, desire, pornography, loss, grief and the life-giving thrills of
all in a series of poetic fragments. In Nick Blackburn's wildly
impressionistic work-in-progress staging for his Wooster Group inspired
Blackburn Company, which features Angel herself performing the entire
book, Unmastered also makes for a beguiling dramatic monologue.

A stiletto-heeled Blackburn is one of two men onstage who make up the
troupe of six that accompanies Angel, who sits to one side of the
playing area, speaking her own words heard through headphones on her
mobile phone. While films flicker on the TV monitors, the four women
dance or draw, on their bodies or on paper projected by a live camera
feed. The men drink Carling Black Label and scribble macho moustaches
and chest hair onto themselves. All try out a variety of wigs, shoes
and hats, playing with a different sex over the next two hours.

While it's unsurprising to find Virginia Woolf and Susan Sontag's names
cropping up, bursts of Madonna, Beyonce other machine music icons
punctuate each section. For all this activity, it's the stillness of
Angel's darkest outpourings that are most effective, made all the more
devastating for the calm clarity of her delivery. As a one-night stand
to accompany art magazine MAP's feminist reading group project, Sick,
Sick, Sick: The Books of Ornery Women, here is a talking book that
requires a much bigger life.

The Herald, May 15th 2014
ends

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