Skip to main content

Women of the Hill

CCA, Glasgow
Four stars


The low whoosh of rolling thunder that slices through the air at the start of Hanna Tuulikki’s reimagining of her dramatic song cycle originally seen on Skye in 2015 is given extra low-flying heft by the gargantuan figure creating it. Towering some twenty-odd feet in height, with the train of her pure white dress billowing beneath and sporting a plant-based head-dress created by artist Caroline Dear, the instrument she spins above her head is as deadly as the wordless chorale that emanates from her mouth. As embodied by Tuulikki herself with monumental grace, this is Cailleach, the ancient goddess of winter, and she’s spoiling for a fight.

She gets one too when Lucy Duncombe enters as her opposite number, Bride, attempting to hold on to all that blossoms in the face of the coming freeze, but dwarfed somewhat by the opposing elements. As the pair spar in and out of harmony, their to-and-fro exchanges morph into a primal form of flyting. A third voice, from Nerea Bello, sees the trio keen with mournful abandon, laying the old seasons to rest before the new one blows in.

Tuulikki’s creation was first performed in the open-air beside the hidden underground of Skye’s High Pasture Cave and was originally commissioned by the island’s ATLAS Arts organisation. This indoor reimagining accompanied the CCA’s Lilt, Twang, Tremor exhibition, which Tuulikki shares with Sarah Rose and Susannah Stark. Over the piece’s forty-five-minute duration, a matriarchal sense of unity is conjured up with a kinetic intensity that eventually gives way to playfulness. Going on this showing, it deserves to have a more substantial run, be it indoors or out. By the end, it becomes a form of purging, with Tuulikki and co shouting out loud for what they’ve lost, but more importantly for everything that lies ahead.


The Herald, January 15th 2018


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…