Skip to main content

Tristan & Yseult

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Five stars

Things are swinging down at the Club of the Unloved in the Cornwall based Kneehigh company's audacious pop-tastic reworking of the oldest love story in the world. The balloons are out and a chorus of balaclava and cagoule clad 'love-spotters' are trying out their chat up lines in vain. The music comes from a retro-styled record player at the front of the stage and a junkyard house band that plays all the heart-breakers and more.

When a gang of hard-men are kicked into touch, French-speaking Tristan goes on a cruise to Ireland to bring back the ring-leader's sister Yseult for the ruling King Mark. Under the influence of a heady brew, Tristan and Yseult fall head over heels, as is related by Kirsty Woodward's Jackie Kennedy-alike narrator, Whitehands. Inevitable tragedy ensues, but not before a melee of slapstick inspired routines explodes into riotous life.

In Emma Rice's circus-styled revival of a production first seen in 2003, Dominic Marsh's Tristan is a shades-sporting pin-up and Hannah Vassallo's Yseult a vivacious independent woman. Niall Ashdown's cross-dressing turn as Brangian, meanwhile, is a comic masterclass that would give Mrs Brown's Boys a run for its money. With twelve people on designer Bill Mitchell's circular wooden stage, there are shades here too of period sit-com Up Pompeii! Or Up Penzance! if you will.

Nothing is black and white here, however, and the darkening of tone in the second half comes with the wedding night itself, as all passion is spent following the ultimate betrayal. What follows, as Whitehands makes clear, is a lot of leftover love that makes for two very different halves of a magnificent caper.

The Herald, June 1st 2017

ends



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…

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…