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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 Theatre Reviews 10 - Spine / A Walk At The Edge of the World / 13 Sunken Years

Spine
Underbelly
Five stars
When teenage Amy turns up on the doorstep of an old woman with the
promise of a room, she opens up the door into a brand new world.  Amy
may be chock-full of attitude, but the old woman is no pushover, as she
reveals to Amy when she reveals her own attitude founded on old-time
Socialism. This is something she put into practice following the
enforced closure of her local library, when she and her neighbours
liberated all the books.

Originally presented as a twenty-minute version in 2012 as part of the
Theatre Uncut initiative's hot off the press responses to austerity
culture, this hour-long development remains  as touching and as urgent
as it ever was. Surrounded by shelf-loads of hard-back tomes, Rosie
Wyatt gives a ferocious performance as Amy as she charts her accidental
getting of wisdom and the call to arms for people power in action that
follows.

Where the old lady we never see represents the wisdom, decency and
compassion that is being all but wiped out by wilful ignorance and
greed, Amy is one of a generation who could flourish if they were only
offered something other than nothing. Brennan, Wyatt and director
Bethany Pitts have together produced a vital piece of theatre about the
the right to knowledge and the power of community in the face of access
to both being annexed by the over-privileged few. It is also a
heart-wrenchingly beautiful modern classic of hard times.
Until August 24.

A Walk At The Edge of the World
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Four stars
You could be forgiven for feeling like you were deep in the countryside
for the first half of the Magnetic North company's exploration of
wide-open spaces by way of body, mind and free-thinking soul. It begins
in the gallery gardens, in which performer Ian Cameron casually
declares his intentions of leading us on a brief city stroll, pleading
too for silence as we go.

As Cameron leads us on a round trip through the neighbourhood's secret
gardens, the sights, sounds and smells – of traffic roar, water
ripples, buzz of life – such low-key displacement heightens the senses
in something that is not so much a retreat as a quiet coming to terms
with the world.

Back in the SNFoMA's studio space, Cameron gives us what he describes
as a talk, which comes complete with what appears to be an archive
slide-show of real-life times past. Accompanied by forensically sourced
visuals by the Sans facon design team of Tristan Surtees and Charles
Blanc, what follows in Cameron's engagingly low-key delivery is part
meditation, part psycho-geographical derive, and part philosophical
inquiry of some very personal effects. Nicholas Bone's production of
his own script is a carefully constructed dramatic affirmation of the
transcendental power of putting one foot in front of the other.
Until August 24.

13 Sunken Years
Assembly Rooms
Three stars
When thirteen year old Eva's vivacious and free-spirited mother,
Helena, drives off one day and never comes back, Eva is left in the
care of her granny, Ursula. With Ursula becoming increasingly engulfed
by dementia, Eva must learn to grow up pretty fast, even as she must
face up to the mysteries of the river that flows beside her village. As
she moves into womanhood, the loss of Eva's mother looks set to linger
forever.

Ushered in by Susan Appelbe's folksy score, Paula Salminen's play, as
translated by Eva Buchwald dovetails back and forth between time
periods, as Eva's friends grow up and move away, with the figure of the
canal lock-keeper a constant presence. Set on an array of wooden
platforms, Maria Oller's co-production between the Lung Ha's and
Stellar Quines theatre companies in association with the Finnish
National Theatre is laced with a simmering sense of grown-up mystery.
Nicola Tuxworth gives a nuanced central performance as Eva in a rites
of passage that charts three generations of women and their responses
to the world.
Until August 24.

The Herald, August 21st 2014


ends

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