Skip to main content

Anything That Gives Off Light

Edinburgh International Conference Centre
Four stars

It feels like a wake at the opening of this transatlantic collaboration between New York wunderkinds The TEAM, the National Theatre of Scotland and Edinburgh International Festival. As Brian Ferguson steps out into a deserted pub to consider what's Scottish, the top soil is still fresh on the floor as his character, also called Brian, makes a prodigal's return from his London home with his granny's ashes in tow. Hooking up with his old pal Iain, an uneasy reunion unlocks a shared history of anti Poll Tax demos and anti Thatcher protests before Brian 'sold out.' When they're hit on by American tourist Red, the trio take a road trip to the Highlands, where hard truths come home to roost.

What sounds like a conventional road movie style yarn lurches into a whisky-fired fantasia that sees the three role-play the Highland clearances before heading stateside to the country roads of West Virginia past and present. This makes for quite a ride in Rachel Chavkin and Davey Anderson's production, penned by them with cast members Jessica Almasy, Ferguson and Sandy Grierson.

As is usual with the TEAM, literature, pop culture and politics are folded into a wilfully messy narrative, but here are reined in with more languidly paced conversational longeurs. These are
peppered throughout by nouveau Appalachian-Scots fused numbers composed by New York duo, Shaun Bengson and Abigail Nessen-Bengson, and performed by piper Annie Grace, drummer Cat Myers and singer/guitarist Maya Sharpe. As the Scotch mist clears, what is left is a slow-burning meditation on a past that refuses to lie down and stay buried, even as it's mythologised along the way.

The Herald, August 19th 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 …