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REaD

Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh
Three stars

Has there ever been a better time to declare yourself better red than dead? Try asking The Red Haired Sirens, the flame-locked trio at the heart of this narrative cabaret that imagines a world where its ginger-follicled inhabitants are made second-class citizens and forced to exist as outlaws underground. In the case of Esther, Shelley and the all seeing Madame, this means entertaining themselves at the Scarlet Church, a tellingly named Kit-Kat Klub style after-hours retreat in what is a red light district in more ways than one.

Here the ladies hold court by way of song, dance and recitation, all on a strictly red theme as made flesh from the pen of poet Kevin P Gilday. In their private moments, the trio contemplate their lot before working some real live red magic en route to liberation. All of which as delivered by Sarah McCardie, Linda Duncan McLaughlin and Belle Jones can't quite decide if it wants to be a 1970s politically inspired revue or else a full-on girls night out. In the end, Allie Butler's production of this seventy-five minute loose-knit compendium of pieces for her Tidy Carnage company in partnership with the Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock, falls awkwardly between the two.

While all three performers are clearly having great fun on Alice Wilson's rough-shod portable set, there are serious things at play which have been heightened this week by the ongoing real life incident of Royal Ballet dancer Edward Watson constantly being criticised in reviews for his hair colour. If an over-riding slightness to some of the material remains, it is good humoured enough to make seeing red an entertainingly empowering experience.

The Herald, May 19th 2016

ends

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