Skip to main content

Avoidable Climbing

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Three stars

Red, white and blue are all over the place in Drew Taylor's contribution to the Glasgow-wide Take Me Somewhere performance festival. It's there on the carpet made up of Union Jack and Stars and Stripes flags, if not on the line-up of show-room dummies who sport Hitler-style moustaches and little else at the back of the Citizens Theatre's Circle Studio. It's definitely there in the co-ordinated retro apparel worn by the show's performers, Isobel McArthur and David Rankine, as they welcome the audience into Taylor's loose-knit political cabaret.

Don't be fooled by the title's self-help styled implications. As the winner of the Somewhere New strand of Take Me Somewhere, which solicited reinventions of classic works in ways which playwright David Hare probably wouldn't approve of, Taylor's piece looks to Brecht for inspiration. Under Taylor's direction, the pair attempt to tackle the state of various nations through song, slogans and a series of linked sketches that take us around the breakfast tables of assorted electorates over the last century or so.

There are DIY captions and assorted routines spoken into microphones. As McArthur and Rankine step in and out of character, guitars and accordions are played and wigs are worn. The house lights are turned up and down as the pair debate the mechanics of a scene. Audience participation becomes more willing as we go along, a perfect symbol of what's required to stop the idiots from winning. The end – which it isn't really, is as downbeat as it is inconclusive. As a barometer of the crazy, mixed-up times we're currently living in, it's as good as any of us can hope for.

The Herald, March 6th 2017

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…

Rob Drummond – The Mack

Rob Drummond was at home in England when he looked at the news feed on his phone, and saw a post about the fire at Glasgow School of Art. It was June 2018, and the writer and performer behind such hits as Grain in the Blood, Bullet Catch and Our Fathers initially presumed the post was to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 blaze in GSA’s Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing a major restoration after much of it was destroyed.
As it turned out, the news was far worse, as reports of a second fire were beamed across the world. As someone who had taken Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic construction for granted while living in Glasgow, Drummond was as stunned as anyone else with even a passing relationship with the Mack.
While emotions continue to run high in response to the disaster, Drummond channelled his thoughts on all this into what he does best. The result is The Mack, a new play that forms part of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and a Pint lunchtime theatre season in Glasgow prior …