Skip to main content

Silver Threads

Paisley Arts Centre
Three stars

When you're handed a flyer supporting the workers while DJ Big Div plays civil rights tinged 1960s soul records, one might think Bruce Morton's new play is looking at a more recent protest movement than it is. Especially when a series of paisley pattern projections hinting at trippy Happenings to come punctuates each scene. In fact, Morton's hour-long comedy presented by producers Jim Lister and Stephen Wright's grassroots FairPley company is set in 1856 Paisley, when the weavers who produced such swirly patterns were fighting for a living wage.

The play focuses on Davie McKenzie, who starts both his day and the play by punching a horse, and ends it by resisting the financial advances of works foreman Andrew Galbraith, his integrity intact. Inbetween, he comes into contact with real life emancipated slave and funk-soul brother Frederick Douglass, all the while running the gauntlet of his much put-upon wife Hannah.

All this is presented in Philip Differ's one-off showcase production in a mixture of monologue and routines that show-off Morton's stand-up roots by way of some hip to the minute colloquialisms that mashes up past and present with possible futures ahead. With Morton himself playing a Scrooge-like Galbraith opposite Neil Leiper, who plays Davie as a hapless galumph with a heart of gold, the play taps into a form of righteous localism that may be rough around the edges, but has the audience booing the boss's lackey. As part of the welter of activity on the back of Paisley's bid to become UK City of Culture 2021, radical history reinvented as a sit-com with a conscience is a fine way to start.

The Herald, July 6th 2016

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

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…

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 …