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Granite

Marischal College, Aberdeen
Four stars

As with many cities just now, the centre of Aberdeen currently resembles a building site. However many concrete blocks are thrown up, however, they will never match the silver splendour of the venue for the culmination of this epic-scale community project initiated by the National Theatre of Scotland. Here a platform flanked by symmetrical crane-like constructions forms an outdoor stage in the Quad that mirrors the shades of grey and white of its surroundings, even as a cosmic sculpture hanging down suggests something more celestial above.

As the industrial clang of manual labour soundtracks the bustle of a community in flux, a 100-plus troupe of actors, dancers, a large-scale choir and band attempt to tell the story of a city defined by its grim determination as much as its hard exterior. As the action flits across centuries and nations, a criss-crossing collage of triumphs and disasters points up how workers are the foundation of any city, be it in the quarries of Odessa or on the North Sea oil rigs.

Devised and written by and with the project's participants, there are so many elements in Simon Sharkey's monumental production that at times it threatens to overwhelm the audience. Led by a six-strong professional cast that features a mighty Joyce Falconer as the city's flinty conscience and Elspeth Turner and Mark Wood as its resilient heart, so many heroic feats of theatrical imagery burst into life over the course of the show's seventy minutes to transcend this that it ceases to be a concern. The collective spirit involved embodies a tenacious strength that matches its surroundings, and which will survive long after the concrete boxes beyond have crumbled.

The Herald, April 4th 2016

ends

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