Skip to main content

Threads

Eastgate Theatre and Arts Centre
Four stars


Five women sit on chairs in a row at the start of Sylvia Dow's new meditation on the role knitting has played on Borders life, their faces lit up by the patterns formed from the projections of nineteenth century mill-workers them. When they sing of lifetimes spent in those mills, it is in a harmonious unison gloriously at odds with the disparate yarns that unravel over the next hour in word, song and image.

Developed over the last three years as part of an oral history project dubbed Knit Two Together and presented by the ever fertile Stellar Quines Theatre Company as part of the Luminate festival of creative ageing, Dow's script flits from latter-day knitting circles to poverty-stricken women imprisoned for stealing thread to illustrate a hidden history excavated and presented in this most playfully inventive show and tell.

Muriel Romanes' production transforms all this into a criss-crossing cut-up collage which, with its mix of sketch-like scenes and songs overseen by musical director Robert Pettigrew at the piano at times resembles a 1970s style political cabaret. Not that there is anything remotely roughshod in the well-drilled delivery by performers Joanna Tope, Molly Innes, Paksie Vernon, Pauline Knowles and Annie
Grace.

The shapes they throw as overseen by choreographer Sophie Stephenson are impressionistic little turns given even more atmosphere and depth by Jeanine Byrne's mood-laden lighting.  There are fantastic cacophonies too as the rhythms of the mills explode into life beyond them.  What Dow's construction evokes most of all as it navigates its way around a short Borders tour is the power behind a shared history as the ties that bind are stronger still.

The Herald, November 2nd 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…