Skip to main content

The Driver's Seat

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

When a young woman about to go on holiday finally reaches the end of her tether, her largely male colleagues indulge her, only laughing at her seemingly highly-strung antics once she's out of sight. So it goes for Lise, the enigmatic heroine of Muriel Spark's 1970 novella, a chronicle of a death foretold brought to life here in Laurie Sansom's adaptation for his own National Theatre of Scotland production.

Clad in vividly clashing candy-stripes as she takes a plane to an un-named European city, Morven Christie's Lise is forever in transit and in search of her own soul more than the potentially dangerous liaisons she never quite embarks on. As her movements are forensically mapped out and dissected by those left in her wake, an elusive, barely there portrait emerges, not just of Lise, but of a psychologically and sexually repressed society barely coping with its apparent new liberties.

All this is is played out by Sansom's cast of seven with cross-cutting fluidity on Ana Ines Jabares Pita's ever-changing set, which uses live filming to move between time and place with the fast-paced dexterity of an ice-cool prime time thriller. The mood is enhanced by Philip Pinsky's understated score, which is as much a product of its time as the story itself.

With Lise surrounded by the voguishly alternative post-1960s hangovers of macrobiotics, student protests and hippies dancing in the department store music section, an ever-prevailing misogyny drives every predatory male Lise brushes up against, as they take advantage of the era's touchy-feeliness even as they are confused and repelled by it. There is too a kind of trickle-down existential ennui which has left Lise and her generation disaffected and left with “the lack of an absence,” as she puts it.

There is strong support here from the likes of Ryan Fletcher, Gabriel Quigley and Michael Thomson, but it is the steely, volatile and self-destructively manipulative presence of Lise as brought to life so devastatingly by Christie that they pivot around in an alluringly elliptical study of self-invention and everyday madness.

The Herald, June 22nd 2015

ends


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …