Skip to main content

The Angry Brigade


Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

A very English cup of tea begins and ends James Graham’s rapid-fire study of the incendiary fall-out of 1960s idealism, when the dangerous ideas learnt by the young generation raised in the ashes of what poet Jeff Nuttall dubbed bomb culture blew up in everybody’s faces.

Graham’s forensic deciphering of real life events when a group of Stoke Newington anarchists vented their spleen by bombing such establishment totems as the Miss World contest at the Royal Albert Hall and swinging fashion emporium Biba is a masterful Yin and Yang-like construction. While the first half focuses on Special Branch’s attempts to get inside the minds of the terrorists, the second shows the same time-line of events from within the pressure-cooker existence of the Brigade’s alternative lifestyle.

Debbie Hannan’s production, performed with energetic zeal by final year BA acting students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, initially resembles an episode of Life on Mars scripted by Joe Orton. With Malcolm Cumming’s Harry Palmer-like copper Smith leading the chase, he and his team turn on and tune in to a crash course of situationism, psycho-geography and other counter-cultural concepts. The freeform freakout that follows is the flipside of their privileged prey, who move from child-like nihilism to strung-out indulgence before a set of psycho-sexual neuroses straight out of R.D. Laing kick in.

Hannan has a riot with the chaos that ensues from both sets of would-be freedom fighters, with trippy projections, Hawkwind on the stereo, communal dance moves and a police station love-in all thrown into the mix. As Megan Valentine’s Anna attempts to restore some order into her life, this particular period of anarchy in the UK is revealed as one more rites of passage for a generation en route to transforming anger into energy.

The Herald, May 31st 2018

ends  



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…

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…

Bdy_Prts

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Saturday December 2nd


It should probably come as no surprise that professional dancers are in the audience for the Edinburgh leg of this mini tour by spectral performance art/pop auteurs Bdy_Prts on the back of the release of their sublime debut album, The Invisible Hero. Beyond the music, the raison d’etre of Bdy_Prts’ dynamic duo of Jill O'Sullivan and Jenny Reeve, after all, is a flamboyantly costumed display of kinetic physical jerks and modernist shape-throwing to illustrate a set of fizzing machine-age chorales.

In this sense, the Bdy_Prts live experience is several works of art for the price of one that's a long way from the pair's formative work fronting Sparrow and the Workshop (O'Sullivan) and Strike the Colours (Reeve). Part living sculptures, part Bloomsbury Group super-heroines, part widescreen pop fabulists, O'Sullivan and Reeve paint their faces with ancient symbols and sport customised shoulder pads that look both seasonally …