Skip to main content

The Air That Carries The Weight

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

Bird-song permeates the air as the audience settle in to watch Rebecca Sharp's poignant and elegiac dramatic tone poem on loss and life. These little chirrups are just a hint of the ancient whispers that will skitter around the room later in Muriel Romanes' production, a fittingly lovely finale to her tenure as artistic director of the Stellar Quines company.

In a dilapidated cottage surrounded by bare trees in the wild cross-winds of Argyll, three women stand, attuning themselves to a seemingly unfavourable environment. The first, Isobel, as played by Melody Grove, is the most discomforted as she both mourns and excavates her shared history with Pauline Lockhart's Yvonne. Pivoting around them both is the real life figure of Marion Campbell, the Kintyre-based archaeologist and explorer of the land she inhabited, and here played with wise grace by Alexandra Mathie. Out of this comes a series of criss-crossing meditations that becomes a voyage of discovery for Isobel even as she comes to terms with ghosts who watch over her like cross-generational angels.

It's rare for all of a play's different elements to be so connected as they are when Sharp's poetic imaginings are made flesh by a beguiling trio of performances. The light and shade of John Byrne's pastoral-domestic design, Jeanine Byrne's flickering lighting and Pippa Murphy's ornate and arcane score wrap around each other like intertwining roots that nurture each other as they go. All of this is tended with gossamer-like precision by Romanes, who makes a slow-burning ritual out of Sharp's heartfelt text which, by embracing the life left behind, honours the dead with the most beautiful of tributes.

The Herald, March 28th 2016

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…