Skip to main content

887

Edinburgh International Conference Centre
Five stars

The last time Quebecois theatrical powerhouse Robert Lepage came to Edinburgh two decades ago, his mesmeric mix of hi-tech visual poetry and story-telling was stopped in its tracks by technical hitches. As his astonishing overdue return makes clear in this European premiere by Lepage's Ex Machina company, technology has finally caught up with this ingenious renaissance man who has long been ahead of his time.

The past isn't always what it seems, however, as Lepage begins his two and a bit hours onstage with an anecdote about how the onset of iPhone culture has left him barely able to remember his own number, yet he is still able to recall events in his childhood growing up in Quebec City almost half a century ago. The catalyst for this was being asked to recite a poem to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of seismic events in Quebec's volatile Francophone history that provoked an angry plea for self-determination.

From this we're led by Lepage into his boyhood apartment block, onto the streets of Quebec, and into his latter-day home where he oversees his impressions of his personal history while coming to terms with the collective legacy of a nation in search of itself. Using a dazzling array of models and projections set up on a TARDIS-like revolving construction, what evolves is part auto-biography, part elegy for a mythologised collective past, and part call to arms. Lepage both preserves that past that defined him, and, in a world where no-one with a taxi driver father like him is able to study theatre anymore, pleas for change in this most quietly revolutionary and beguiling of experiences.

The Herald, August 14th 2015

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…

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 …

High Society

Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Four stars

The stage looks gift-wrapped with a sparklingly expensive bow at the opening of John Durnin's revival of Arthur Kopit's Cole Porter based musical that reinvigorates the starry 1956 film where it originated. With the film itself drawing from Philip Barry's play, The Philadelphia Story, Kopit and Porter's depiction of the Long Island jet set says much about over-privileged party people, but retains a fizz that keeps it going till all passion is seemingly spent.
The action is based around the forthcoming nuptials of drop-dead gorgeous society gal and serial bride, Tracy Lord. With her daddy having run off with a show-girl, and ex beau next door CK Dexter Haven set sail for other shores, Tracy settles for George, a stinking rich would-be president for whom stupidity, as someone observes, sits on his shoulders like a crown. Enter Tracy's match-making kid sister Dinah and a pair of reporters for a trashy scandal sheet looking to stit…