Skip to main content

In My Father's Words

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars
When the increasingly senile old man at the heart of Justin Young's
moving, Toronto-set new play declares to his estranged son in Gaelic
that “We will go fishing,” the initial reaction is one of
incomprehension. By the end of Philip Howard's elegiac production for
Dundee Rep, however, Don has built a bridge, not just with his classics
lecturer son, Louis, who he hasn't seen for fifteen years, but with
Flora, the Gaelic-speaking carer Don hires so he can get on with his
self-absorbed and  long overdue translation of Homer.

Inspired by an Iain Crichton Smith's poem and set in a pre-laptop,
pre-Google early 1990s, what at first looks like a quiet play about
fathers, sons, and everyday dysfunction opens itself out to grander
themes of odyssey, exile and the gulf that can open up among families
when separated by war. Such  classical allusions never lose sight of
the basic human cost of this absence. With Lewis Howden's Louis the
epitome of world-weary resentment, Don's own pains become tellingly
clear through Angus Peter Campbell's vivid and understated portrayal.
It is Flora's disruptive appearance, played with gusto by Muireann
Kelly, that opens up both men enough to confront their troubled pasts.

While played primarily in English, Iain Finlay Macleod's Gaelic
translations projected onto screens on a twin-tiered wood-lined set
become key to the play's over-riding lyricism. Jon Beales' languid
score adds to the mood of poignancy and warmth. As Louis comes back to
life even as his father fades, their accidental quest for mutual
understanding reveals a shared history that is both intimate and epic
in its reach for roots and reconciliation.

The Herald, June 23rd 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…