Skip to main content

Blackbird

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

When the lights go out on twenty-something Una mid-way through David Harrower's taboo-busting psycho-drama, she's left alone in a room full of domestic debris. The painful silence and eventual cry for help that follows make it feel like this is the second time she's been deserted by Ray, the man now known as Peter who she went on the run with fifteen years before. That was when he was forty and she was twelve. In the gulf between the couple's two meetings, lives have been lived, torn apart and just possibly rebuilt. In the play's 100 minute duration, played without an interval, those lives are exposed in all their fragility before being turned upside down once more.

A decade after it premiered at Edinburgh International Festival, the emotional cache of Harrower's play becomes more powerful with its every reading. As this new production by Gareth Nicholls – no stranger to intense two-handers following his production of Gitta Sereny's Into That Darkness last year - the relationship between Una and Ray is infinitely more complex than any cheap stab at tabloid-making sensationalism.

Ray is no politician or TV celebrity taking advantage of his position or heart-throb status, and Una is no glamour-chasing former teeny-bopper on the make. If anything, it is the sheer everyday ordinariness of both their lives and the feelings neither are in control of that gives the play its believability. There are moments in their lengthy exchanges that recall those between John Proctor and Abigail in Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible. Here, however, the consequences are even more intimate

As Ray, Paul Higgins is a haunted bag of neuroses who flits between humility and resentment at what he's lost, and if anything seems more damaged than Una. As played by Camrie Palmer, she at first seems equally sure of herself before gradually falling apart. As the pair roll around in the mess of their own making both psychologically and physically, passions are purged even as they're briefly rekindled to complicate their lives once more en route to closure in a brilliantly unflinching tug of love.

The Herald, February 29th 2016

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 …