Skip to main content

Martyr

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars


There are moments when it feels like Benjamin, the teenage Christian fundamentalist at the heart of Maja Zade's English translation of German playwright Marius von Mayenburg's drama, is bursting, not just out of his school uniform, but out of his very skin in this co-production between Actors Touring Company and Unicorn Theatre. One minute he's quoting the scriptures to justify
his refusal to take part in mixed swimming lessons, the next he's thrown into temptation by both his
classmate Lydia and his would-be disciple and good cause, George.

Growing pains and a bursting sexuality, it seems, are guided by a blind faith that is prepared to sacrifice anything that gets in its way. This is made flesh here by Benjamin's  biology teacher, Erica, who, in between dodging the everyday sexism of her male colleagues becomes an equally obsessed believer.

Set on an array of wooden surfaces and platforms which his cast navigate, Ramin Gray's production estuarises things up to a more localised degree. This points up just how easy classroom terrorists can be sired even as it acknowledges the play's roots in a Germany which has been dealing with the fallout of extremism from all sides for seventy-odd years.

Such a complex crisis-crossing of belief systems and adolescent angst is fiercely and at times wittily delivered by an eight-strong cast led by Daniel O'Keefe as Benjamin and Natalie Radmall-Quirke
as Erica, with Farshid Rokey a tragi-comic George. The production's final image, in which private devotion becomes public spectacle by way of grand gestures, resembles a contemporary rendering of classical religious tableaux. It's immortality of sorts, even though no-one has a prayer left to call their
own.

The Herald, October 19th 2015


Ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…