Skip to main content

Embrace

Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh
Three stars
If you go down to the woods any night this week, you're in for a
big-ish surprise with this new show from Vision Mechanics, which
promenades its way after dark en route to some ecologically inclined
Shangei-la. With the audience gathered in groups of twenty or so, the
show's director and creator Kim Bergsagel and her trusty sidekick lead
the throng to an Occupy style camp-site where they introduce us to the
wisdom of an enlightened fellow traveller before we're encouraged to
eavesdrop on the conversations going on inside the tents. Depending on
where you're coming from, these sound either like heated debate or out
and out bickering in what looks and sounds like a pastiche of
grass-roots activism.

With a police bust imminent, we're led down assorted paths, where a
film by Robbie Thomson uses shadow puppetry and Ewan Macintyre's
eastern-tinged backwoods soundtrack to tell the story of the show's
inspiration, Amrita Devi. In 1730 Devi was beheaded for preventing the
chopping down of trees by hugging them, influencing a similarly
inclined 1970s movement. Beyond this, assorted Indian dancers and
aerialists dressed as day-glo clad sprites run wild and free while neon
signs and voices in headphones preach the evils of technology.

As illuminating a call to arms as such back-packer philosophy is,
there's an irony in the  fact that without the headphones and hi-tech
rig, Vision Mechanics' team of son et lumiere magicians would not have
been able to reconstruct the Gardens' after-dark landscape in such an
atmospheric fashion. It is this multi-media approach that conversely
transports the performers and Bergsagel's brand of environmental
story-telling back to nature with a meditative flourish.

The Herald, October 10th 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…