Skip to main content

The Return


MacRobert Arts Centre, Stirling
Four stars

In small town life, everybody knows your business. More importantly perhaps, they also know your name. So it goes in the rural 16th century French community that occupies Ellie Stewart’s dark and elegant mystery as it investigates the existential human consequences of stepping into someone else’s shoes. The cuckoo in the nest here is Arnaud, Thoren Ferguson’s rugged stranger who fills an absence left by the disappearance of Bertrande’s husband when he wandered off into the hills seven years before. Never, Bertrande presumes, to be seen again. Until now, that is. Like Arnaud says, he’s returned a new man.

Drawn from various takes on the real-life story of Martin Guerre, Stewart has constructed a dramatic smoke-screen of beguiling beauty and shadowy erotics. Philip Howard’s touring production for the Inverness-based Eden Court Theatre wraps this in a slow-burning musicality pulsed by brooding cello drones created live by Greg Sinclair, who also plays Arnaud’s son, Sanxi. As Kenneth MacLeod’s rough-hewn set seems to conjure up an entire landscape in miniature, Emilie Patry gives Bertrande a pragmatic earthiness to match.

All of this is driven by the stark boldness of the writing. There’s a richness to Stewart’s stripped-back dialogue that’s awash with terminally guarded exchanges that constantly threaten to spill its secrets out into the open for all the village to see. In the end, it’s as if Arnaud wants to get found out as he sabotages himself as much as the comfort-zone of the domestic bliss he’s built around him. If he’s taken his reinvented self as far as he can go, the second-hand family Arnaud leaves behind will find stories of their own as they work out what they’re willing to believe to fill the void.

The Herald, February 26th 2018

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…

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…

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…