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Colquhoun and Macbryde

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

Long before anyone invented the make-believe Glasgow miracle, Robert
Colquhoun and Robert Macbryde were creating a set of artistic
mythologies that set the tone for much that followed. Kilmarnock born
and Glasgow School of Art trained, as painters and lovers the two
Roberts blazed a drink-sodden trail through bohemian London that saw
them hailed as boy wonders before being spoilt by bad behaviour and
sidelined by the more voguish face of abstract expressionism.

Few have identified the talents of Glasgow's original artistic double
act more than John Byrne, whose original 1992 romp through their messy
lives has here been condensed into a suitably wild two-man version in
Andy Arnold's production for the Tron in association with the Glasgay!
festival. The bare back-side of a sprawled-out Macbryde being painted
by his partner-in-crime at the top of the show sets the tone for the
tempestuous and emotionally naked roller-coaster ride that follows. As
they move from Hope Street to Soho, and from poverty to flavour of the
month and back again, it's as if each are racing to their own downfall.

Andy Clark and Stephen Clyde throw themselves into Arnold's production
with suitable abandon as they roar their way across a set of chaise
longues, easels and other artistic apparel, giving full vent to Byrne's
baroque vernacular and deadly one-liners. The show is worth seeing too
for the accuracy of Byrne's facsimiles of his subjects canvasses, as
well as a large-scale Jackson Pollock forgery that may or may not be
just “wallpaper.” With a major retrospective of Colquhoun and Macbryde
set to open shortly at the National Gallery of Scotland, it seems the
two Roberts have finally made it, no miracles required.

The Herald, November 3rd 2014


ends

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