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Hidden Door / Charlotte Hastings - Heroines / The Mash Collective / Creative Electric - Sinking Horses / FOUND / BDY_PTS / Marnie / Manuela

Leith Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

The sun may have shone on Leith this weekend, but inside Leith Theatre, the stars were looking down on the first swathe of artistic interventions this shamefully neglected building has seen for a quarter of a century. Those stars may have been projected, but they gave a sheen of cosmic glamour to a reinvigorated space that is the sort of large-scale civic hall the capital has been crying out for.

Beyond the main auditorium, all manner of performances, film screenings and interventions took hold, from beneath the main stage right up to the makeshift galleries on the roof of the building. Things began early on Friday night, with the theatre's upstairs balcony playing host to Heroines, Charlotte Hastings' three-woman cut-up of speeches by female icons of Greek tragedy. The entire auditorium was utilised by The Mash Collective, a grey-clad ensemble who tapped into Leith Theatre's history with a series of dance routines. In one of the smaller spaces, Heather Marshall and her Creative Electric troupe presented Sinking Horses, a personal meditation on mental illness that saw a group of young female performers sharing their darkest thoughts.

The first act to grace the main stage on Friday were FOUND, the now two-piece band who made full facility of the venue's lights and sound system with a set of instrumental electronica, the likes of which hadn't been heard within Leith Theatre's walls since Kraftwerk played there. This was followed by BDY_PTS, the duo of Jenny Reeve and Jill O'Sullivan, who combined epic electronic pop chorales with a few contemporary dance steps and the sartorial extravagance of Bloomsbury Group super-heroines. The pure pop vibe was kept up by Helen Marnie, co-vocalist of Ladytron who, as Marnie, channelled an infectious pot pourri of full on R ' B bubblegum. The audience lingered into the small hours, with more electronica from Rival Consoles, aka Ryan Lee West, that gave the night a rhythmic momentum even a fire alarm couldn't stop.

Saturday's main stage action was enlivened by Manuela, the vehicle for recently departed Franz Ferdinand guitarist Nick McCarthy and his partner, singer Manuela Gernedal. As was demonstrated by a set of chunky disco pop anthems, if Eurovision ever went indie, Manuela could represent the world. At one point, McCarthy's guitar licks were a dead ringer for ABBA's Knowing Me, Knowing You. Hidden Door remains well and truly open all this week.

 
The Herald, May 30th 2017

ends

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