Skip to main content

Mermaid

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Five stars

In a run-down seaside down where Tesco has left the local fishing industry bereft, teenage Blue sits chained to her mobile phone, desperate for the seemingly grown up world beyond to let her into the party. While her brightly-dressed peers follow their hormones, Blue dreams up a world of her own, where mermaids live in harmony beneath the sea, untouched by the wars that rage above them. One, however, becomes smitten with a drowning prince and the allure of the shiny world above.

It can't be understated just how gorgeous, how poignant and how downright radical Polly Teale's twenty-first century reboot of Hans Christian Andersen's classic tale of The Little Mermaid is in her own touring production for Shared Experience and Nottingham Playhouse. Set against a backdrop of peer-group pressure and privilege, of Royal weddings and media scrums, of anti war marches and beach bodied airbrushed perfection, its not hard to spot the real-life antecedents at play in Blue's stormy rites of passage.

Natalie Gavin as Blue and Sarah Twomey as The Little Mermaid lead a set of eight spikily realised performances supported by a fourteen-strong teenage female choir sourced locally from an on-line shout-out. Liz Ranken's choreography enables the ensemble to throw Busby Berkely shapes brimming with muscle, guts and yearning. Watching The Little Mermaid be taught how to walk in high heels by royal flunkies is a contemporary ballet by itself. For Blue and The Little Mermaid, at least, there is a happy ending, in that they learn to be who they are. As for the Prince, he goes on doing his duty, shell-shocked ever after.

The Herald, May 11th 2015

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…

Pauline Knowles - An Obituary

Pauline Knowles – Actress
Born December 16 1967; died October 17 2018
Pauline Knowles, who has died suddenly of a heart attack aged 50, was one of the most powerful stage actresses of her generation. Over more than twenty years, Knowles brought a quiet intensity and fierce intelligence to every part she played. This was the case when she played the barely articulate rural woman in Philip Howard’s original 1995 Traverse Theatre production of David Harrower’s modern classic, Knives in Hens. It was still the case when Knowles gave a ferociously contemporary portrayal of Clytemnestra in This Restless House, Zinnie Harris’ stunning reinvention of Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy directed by Dominic Hill at the Citizens Theatre with the National Theatre of Scotland twenty-one years later.
Knowles occupied both roles with an innate sense of each woman’s everyday ordinariness in ways that made their experiences totally recognisable. As a result, however extreme their actions and however powerful the…

The Duke

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Four stars
Shon Dale-Jones seems like a very nice chap. You can tell from the way he welcomes each member of the audience into the theatre, shaking them by the hand to a soundtrack of energising 1960s feel-good soul. Such a personable approach helps create a warm and intimate atmosphere, so when he sits at a desk with only a laptop, a volume control and us for company, you can’t help but be charmed from the start of this hour-long foray, both into his own fantastical mind as well as the discursive set of first-world contradictions it lets loose into the world.
It begins with a Royal Worcester porcelain figure of the Duke of Wellington on horseback, which Dale-Jones’ dad bought in 1974 for £750. This would make it worth more than £8,000 in today’s money if his mum hadn’t broken it while dusting. This is just one more thing for Dale-Jones to think about as he attempts to apply a script doctor’s ruthless critique onto a film script he’s been working on for a deca…