Skip to main content

Tracks of the Winter Bear

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

A snow-ridden pathway flanked at either end by flung-out furniture opens the Traverse's exquisitely realised double bill of seasonal but utterly grown-up plays. By the end of these two short works by Stephen Greenhorn and Rona Munro, however, designer Kai Fischer's gauze-shrouded white landscape has thawed considerably in a slow-burning and emotional show which, despite its title, is riven with all too recognisably human experience.

In the first piece, Greenhorn unravels a love affair between two women that rewinds from its final plague to its first flush as it moves from atop Arthur's Seat to a first kiss on Portobello Beach, and all points inbetween. Munro's follow-up work puts a woman in an initially adversarial situation with a real live polar bear. As the Bear channels the inner hunger of those she devours, both try to find their way home, be it in Abbeyhill or a winter wonderland far away.

Themes of mortality pulse both plays in productions directed respectively by Zinnie Harris and Orla O'Loughlin. There are heart-rending turns by Deborah Arnott and Karen Bartke as the first play's couple, Shula and Avril, while Kathryn Howden's blousy Jackie forms the oddest of alliances with Caroline Deyga's Bear in the second. There are lovely cameos too from Molly Innes.

Both works move at a stately pace that borders on the transcendentally woozy, a mood enhanced by a slowcore piano score by David Paul Jones. As each play eases its way gently beyond their initial chilliness towards something warmer, in different ways they become moving paeans to loss, healing and survival against all odds in this most painful and wildest of worlds.

The Herald, December 11th 2015

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…

Bdy_Prts

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Saturday December 2nd


It should probably come as no surprise that professional dancers are in the audience for the Edinburgh leg of this mini tour by spectral performance art/pop auteurs Bdy_Prts on the back of the release of their sublime debut album, The Invisible Hero. Beyond the music, the raison d’etre of Bdy_Prts’ dynamic duo of Jill O'Sullivan and Jenny Reeve, after all, is a flamboyantly costumed display of kinetic physical jerks and modernist shape-throwing to illustrate a set of fizzing machine-age chorales.

In this sense, the Bdy_Prts live experience is several works of art for the price of one that's a long way from the pair's formative work fronting Sparrow and the Workshop (O'Sullivan) and Strike the Colours (Reeve). Part living sculptures, part Bloomsbury Group super-heroines, part widescreen pop fabulists, O'Sullivan and Reeve paint their faces with ancient symbols and sport customised shoulder pads that look both seasonally …

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…