Skip to main content

The Garden

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

In a windowless high-rise built where the Sun no longer shines, the
entire world seems to be closing in on Jane and Mac, the listless
couple at the centre of this short opera penned by real life partners,
playwright Zinnie Harris and composer John Harris. The concrete
landscape they've created for Jane and Mac is grey and empty, their
lives barren of feeling as each struggles with their own private ennui.

When a small weed appears beneath the lino, having seemingly grown up
through breeze-block like some Ballardian bean-stalk, it's flash of
green suggests a life beyond the four walls for them both. When what
turns out to be an apple tree keeps growing back, refusing to be
pruned, its persistence awakens in Jane and Mac a desire which
transcends beyond the numbness, even as they self-medicate their way to
oblivion,

Commissioned and presented by the Aberdeen-based Sound festival of new
music and adapted from Zinnie Harris' short play, this musical version
begins with a low electronic hum that builds to a series of electric
keyboard motifs underscoring Alan McHugh and Pauline Knowles'
part-sung, part-spoken exchanges.

There's an underlying sadness to the performances in Zinnie Harris'
production, which takes
urban alienation to its logically dystopian limit before taking a leap
into more idyllic Ray Bradbury territory where the couple can breathe.
Knowles and McHugh play off each other beautifully, their voices
plaintive, their expressions pained, their hopes ultimately dashed.

At forty minutes, the Harris' story can stand alongside anything from
the late twentieth century new wave of ecologically-inclined short-form
science-fiction, even as it hints of fresh Edens to come.


The Herald, January 27th 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…