Skip to main content

Summer Heart

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

A young woman enters wearing a raincoat, like she's going on a journey. There's a grand piano behind her, and a comfy chair and a coffee table on the other side of the stage. Over the next hour, Maraike Bruening recounts a remarkable visitation that ushers the audience into the life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the Czech-born pianist who survived the Holocaust, and whose surname translates as Summer Heart. As Bruening observes, this is an all too fitting name for the old lady whose smiling face beams from the image of her projected onto the back of the stage, especially given everything she's been through.

As Bruening recounts in her understated form of journalistic storytelling in what she styles as a 'piano play', Herz-Sommer's life may have been turned upside down by the Nazi occupation of her homeland, but her hope remained undimmed. In what is as much concert as drama, Bruening punctuates each section of her story with her own renditions of the same Chopin etudes that Herz-Sommer played for her fellow concentration camp inmates. The story itself is illustrated by an astonishing series of table-top drawings created by Bruening live out of sand and projected behind her.

Developed at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and spotted by Tron artistic director Andy Arnold, who paired Bruening with director Fiona Mackinnon, this is a vital telling of an important story made up of a series of solos from all artforms. As Bruening brings things full circle, hearing Herz-Sommer's voice talk about the joys of life while her face beams down once more brings home just how music can be the most profound of lifelines.

The Herald, September 12th 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…

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…

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…