Skip to main content

Fever Dream: Southside

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

'People Make Glasgow World Class' declaims the bus shelter hoarding just across the bridge that leads to the Gorbals-based Citizens Theatre. Beyond the spin, such a statement could easily form part of Douglas Maxwell's new play. Set beneath a neon-lit reconstruction of artist Stephen O'Neil's real life installation, it becomes a fantastical love letter, not just to the Govanhill neighbourhood it is set in, but to the city itself.

For Peter and Demi, the young couple at the play's centre, it is a city full of monsters, where family life is disrupted by a cacophony of police helicopters and howling dogs who add to the din of their crying baby. With sleeplessness at a premium, Peter's terminal adolescence rubs up uncomfortably against the likes of Dharmesh Patel's property developer Raj, who takes Umar Malik's disaffected schoolboy Kuldev under his wing and is the epitome of every big-talking wide-boy who ever tried to rip the heart from any city going cheap. Martin Donaghy's deluded evangelist Joe has his own demons to deal with, while a new breed of 'creatives' is represented by a pink-wigged performance artist mercilessly portrayed by Charlene Boyd.

Set against the backdrop of a missing teenage girl and the protests against the closure of Govanhill Baths, the first half of Dominic Hill's production is a woozy collage of urban nightmares that climaxes with a very Game of Thrones style revelation. The second focuses on a kind of collective recovery, with Martin McCormick's Peter and Kirsty Stuart's Demi finally seeming to beat the bad guys.

With any over-riding ennui undercut by some very Maxwellian one-liners, this is an extravagant and audacious ramble through a city's fractured psyche in all its imagined excess. Michael John McCarthy's live score moves from Joy Division style miserableism to sludge metal and beyond towards some kind of redemption. As Kuldev becomes radicalised, the play's final moment may be pure Spartacus, but it is also a call to arms that goes beyond the empty playground rhetoric of party politics to a much bigger and more meaningful form of something resembling community.

The Herald, April 27th 2015

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…

Bdy_Prts

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Saturday December 2nd


It should probably come as no surprise that professional dancers are in the audience for the Edinburgh leg of this mini tour by spectral performance art/pop auteurs Bdy_Prts on the back of the release of their sublime debut album, The Invisible Hero. Beyond the music, the raison d’etre of Bdy_Prts’ dynamic duo of Jill O'Sullivan and Jenny Reeve, after all, is a flamboyantly costumed display of kinetic physical jerks and modernist shape-throwing to illustrate a set of fizzing machine-age chorales.

In this sense, the Bdy_Prts live experience is several works of art for the price of one that's a long way from the pair's formative work fronting Sparrow and the Workshop (O'Sullivan) and Strike the Colours (Reeve). Part living sculptures, part Bloomsbury Group super-heroines, part widescreen pop fabulists, O'Sullivan and Reeve paint their faces with ancient symbols and sport customised shoulder pads that look both seasonally …

Ceildh

Tron Theatre, Glasgow Three stars
One kiss is all it takes for everyone to understand each other in Catriona Lexy Campbell and Mairi Sine Campbell’s new play. Linguistically that is, as ancient and modern are brought to rollickingly intimate life by the Gaelic-based Theatre Gu Leor (Theatre Galore) company in the Tron’s Vic Bar en route to an extensive cross-Scotland tour. The set-up is the sort of ghastly tartan-draped corporate function whose perma-grinning hostess Lisa makes bogus claims of preserving culture while blatantly intent on flogging it off to the highest bidder. Think McWetherspoon by way of Trumpageddon.
With the audience ushered into a cabaret table arrangement by Lisa’s step-daughter Eilidh and serenaded by Eddie’s oh-so-couthy accordion playing, the dirt from Harris is unearthed along with a bottle of David Beckham-branded whisky. This causes the corporate shindig to be disrupted on an epic scale by seventeenth century poet Mairi Ruadh. Which is when both the kissing an…