Skip to main content

New Works 2014

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Three stars
It is an inspired idea, having young drama students on the verge of
going out into the world work with seasoned professional playwrights to
develop brand new works that stretch the talents of all involved. So it
is with the three new short plays by Clare Duffy, Jo Clifford and
Isabel Wright performed and directed as a series of double bills by the
graduates of the Royal Conservatoire Scotland 's MA Classical and
Contemporary Text course with support from Playwrights' Studio Scotland.

Clare Duffy's 1914 Machine starts off looking like a girl's own
adventure yarn, as female spy La Marquise flies across the English
channel to deliver secret war plans to the government, and ends up
lurching into a science-fiction future in which everyone communicates
through screens. Inbetween, La Marquise flies high with a pre-war
bohemian set for whom she supplies cocaine and some stolen radium that
might just hold the key to the future.

  As the drugs loosen lips and minds, in director Paul Brotherston's
hands, the hyper-active rubbish spouted by all resembles a
sub-Chekhovian student party which his cast grab at with suitable
abandon. By leaping time-zones, Duffy creates a timely meditation on
the ever-encroaching pervasiveness of technology that looks to E.M.
Forster's short story, The Machine Stops, in a lively joining of the
dots between past, present and future.

Even more playful is Jo Clifford's White Ted and the Right To Die,
which looks at the whys and wherefores of euthanasia in a day to day
environment. That Clifford does this through a teddy-bear narrator and
a dog called Benji who returns as a ghost after being put down adds a
humorous heart to a very serious subject. There is too the conflicted
views of the same person represented here by two actors in Jessica
Aquila Cymerman's production, which starts off with the cast in
overalls as if checking a crime scene for forensic evidence before
revealing themselves. With some neat shadow-play, there is an appealing
warmth invested into a life and death situation that's much more than a
shaggy dog story.

Where Duffy and Clifford offered up fantastical world-views, Blind Eye
by Isabel Wright looks to an all too contemporary scenario of spin for
inspiration. As a politician and his wife turn to the ultimate PR firm
to give them a boost, an activist infiltrates the company as an intern
in league with a reporter who takes an even more gung-ho approach to
exposing scandals both political and sexual. Out of this comes a
political thriller that looks at how lies are dressed up by managerial
sleights-of-hand that can and do turn every misdemeanour into a
positive.

In Wendy Turner's production, Wright's series of short scenes flow into
each other with a full sense deal-making intrigue before chaos reigns
as all are exposed. The end result is a dramatically stark and
healthily cynical look at how the world is being run right now behind
doors which, for most of us, remain very firmly closed.

The Herald, September 15th 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…