Skip to main content

The 306: Day

Station Hotel, Perth
Four stars

Outside the grand entrance to the Station Hotel, a row of ten women stand in silence. Some hold wooden placards, which are tellingly blank and slogan free. As welcoming committees go, it's a powerful pre-cursor to the second part of Oliver Emanuel's 306 trilogy of plays, designed to open up the largely hidden history based around the 306 British soldiers executed for cowardice during World War One.

Where the first part focused on the men themselves, this follow-up looks at the lives of the women left behind and forced to fight battles of their own. Where Gertrude struggles to survive once her husband is killed by the state, Mrs Byers waits in vain for a letter from her son, also a victim of the government. Mrs Byers' daughter Nellie is a munitions factory firebrand, whose husband is in prison for being a conscientious objector, but who won't be silenced, whatever the cost.

Jemima Levick's production is a beautifully conceived construction, which weaves together Emanuel's patchwork of stories performed by a cast of six on Becky Minto's portable set of multi-purpose wooden tables. At the play's centre is Gareth Williams' aching cello and piano score, played live in this co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland, Perth Theatre and Stellar Quines by Robert Irvine and Laura McIntosh of associate company, Red Note Ensemble,.

As Angela Hardie, Dani Heron, Fletcher Mathers, Steven Miller, Wendy Somerville and Amanda Wilkin belt out a mix of fiercely defiant chorales, they unveil a litany of lesser known war crimes. They also unleash a collective power that needs to be reclaimed with every passing day.

The Herald, May 8th 2017

ends


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…

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 …

High Society

Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Four stars

The stage looks gift-wrapped with a sparklingly expensive bow at the opening of John Durnin's revival of Arthur Kopit's Cole Porter based musical that reinvigorates the starry 1956 film where it originated. With the film itself drawing from Philip Barry's play, The Philadelphia Story, Kopit and Porter's depiction of the Long Island jet set says much about over-privileged party people, but retains a fizz that keeps it going till all passion is seemingly spent.
The action is based around the forthcoming nuptials of drop-dead gorgeous society gal and serial bride, Tracy Lord. With her daddy having run off with a show-girl, and ex beau next door CK Dexter Haven set sail for other shores, Tracy settles for George, a stinking rich would-be president for whom stupidity, as someone observes, sits on his shoulders like a crown. Enter Tracy's match-making kid sister Dinah and a pair of reporters for a trashy scandal sheet looking to stit…