Skip to main content

Faith Healer

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars
“Spend your life in show-business and you become a philosopher,” says
Teddy, the spiv-like manager and touring partner of The Fantastic
Francis Hardy in the third of four monologues that make up Brian
Friel's haunting dramatic meditation on the the unreliable powers of an
inconsistent muse, and how those powers can trap their carrier in their
own self-destructive mythology.

Before Teddy met Frank, his world was occupied by bagpipe-playing
whippets and other end-of-the-pier acts. Once their paths crossed, it
was an endless itinerary of one-night stands in isolated towns and
villages in Scotland and Wales where miracles sometimes happened. Like
an ageing rock band, Frank, Teddy and Frank's wife Grace embark on a
never-ending tour of backwoods venues struggling to recapture the
alchemical spark that once made Frank great in-between burying himself
in booze and antagonising strangers and intimates.

It is Frank who frames the play with the first and last of the play's
quartet of conflicting confessionals. A dynamic Sean O'Callaghan
invests Frank with shabby vulnerability in John Dove's poignant and
powerful production. Possessed by a mercurial restlessness, O'Callaghan
is never still for a second as he whirls about Michael Taylor's church
hall set, declaiming Frank's version of his peaceful downfall during
his return to Ireland.

Once Niamh McCann's Grace tells all from her London bedsit, the
contradictions of Frank's account become plain as she unravels her own
tragedy. After the interval, Patrick Driver's Teddy is almost light
relief in his bluff description of events. It's significant that the
manager is the only survivor in this mighty metaphor for art, and the
life and death that fuel it.

The Herald, January 20th 2014

ends  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…

James Ley - Love Song to Lavender Menace

James Ley had never heard of Lavender Menace when he won an LGBT History Month Scotland Cultural Commission award to write a new play. While Edinburgh's pioneering gay book shop that existed between 1982 and 1987 before reinventing itself in new premises as West and Wilde wasn't on Ley's radar, he had vaguely heard of the Gentlemen's Head Quarters, the nickname for the public toilet that existed at the east end of Princes Street outside Register House. He was also half aware of Fire Island, the legendary gay nightclub that existed at the west end of Princes Street in a space that now forms the top floor of Waterstone's book shop.

As he discovered, Fire Island was a central focal point for what was then a still largely underground gay scene in Edinburgh's capital. Alongside the likes of the Laughing Duck pub on Howe Street, Fire Island was one of the few places where HI-NRG music could be heard in what would these days be dubbed a safe space for gay men and wo…