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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

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