Sunday, 17 August 2014

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 Theatre reviews 8 - Traverse Breakfast Plays 1 - Broth / Blinded By The Light / The Day The Pope Emptied Croy

Broth
Traverse Theatre
Three stars
The Traverse Breakfast Plays have become a 9am Fringe fixture over the
last few years. This year's season of six plays have been selected and
developed from The Traverse 50, Scotland's new writing theatre's
year-long initiative designed to develop and hone writers' playwriting
skills.

First out the traps is this brutally dark look at domestic abuse in a
family which has somewhat miraculously stayed together despite the
behaviour of its drunken head of the house. As with the soup on the
stove at the start of Emma Callander's script-in-hand work-in-progress
production, tensions betweeen the three generations of women who may or
may not have battered Jimmy Chisholm's unreconstructed patriarch into
submission are simmering to boiling point.

This is seriously grown-up stuff from Primrose, who takes all the
trappings of dour domestic drama and, as the likes of Martin McDonagh
has done before him, explodes it into unexpected territory which a
full-length rewrite might make even wilder. Even at this stage,
however, the text has prompted a set of no-holds-barred performances
from a cast of five. This is particularly the case with Meg Fraser,
whose depiction of the mother trying to keep it together is a
masterclass in barely suppressed hysteria.
Repeated on August 19


Blinded By The Light
Traverse Theatre
Three stars
One of the joys of the Traverse's early morning season of Breakfast
Plays is the liberation it provides for writers to play with form.
Sylvia Dow takes full advantage of this in a piece that criss-crosses a
first-hand account of striking miners who occupy a Blackhall colliery
in 1982 with notes from a young woman living in a future-world where
society has moved underground. As tensions unravel down in the pit, the
air becomes equally stifling in both places. It is a Ladybird
childrens' book, however, that allow those in both time-spheres to come
up for air.

On one level, the Blackhall set sections are a timely reminder about
how one of the UK's most profitable industries was gradually and
wilfully destroyed. There is something more going on here too about
community and life beyond being kept in the dark, while E.M. Forster's
short story, The Machine Stops, springs to mind in this section's
science-fiction tinged parallel.

Emma Callander's script-in-hand mini production allows Dow to raise
concerns about how the world has been and may yet be shaped to its
detriment, and when the play's twin protagonists, played respectively
by Andy Clark and Emma Hartley-Miller come blinking into the light,
there epiphany that follows.
Repeated on August 20


The Day The Pope Emptied Croy
Traverse Theatre
Three stars
When Pope John Paul II came to Bellahouston Park in Glasgow in 1982, it
left an awful lot of Catholic churches in the vicinity unattended. This
is the starting point of Martin McCormick's contribution to the
Traverse Breakfast plays, in which a glued-up pair of would-be teenage
punks break into one such institution in Croy intent on stealing its
chalice. To use as bargaining power with the bullying big brother of
Finbarr, the Catholic half of the operation.

This is all dressed up as something of a comic caper in Emma
Callander's script in hand work in progress, and even when the pair
chance upon a man wearing a mini skirt who has been similarly beaten
and hung on the cross by a balaclava sporting gang it looks like it
might veer into Whistle Down The Wind territory. With an off-his head
Barring showing a sensitive side through his drawings, a bond of sorts
is formed with the man, only to be cruelly upended in the final moments
of a meticulously plotted study of where loyalties really lie in a town
riven with prejudice, whichever deity happens to be visiting.
Repeated on August 21

The Herald, August 15th 2014
ends

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