Skip to main content

Vent


Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

“There’s going to be a public enquiry,” says the under-pressure boss of a failed institution at one point in Scottish Youth Theatre’s new devised show created and performed by this year’s seventeen-strong ensemble. “We’re off the hook.”

Given SYT’s turbulent last six months in terms of surviving public funding decisions, such insights might well apply to organisations infinitely closer to home that affected SYT’s livelihood. As it is, Vent is a play that looks at the very prescient topic of mental health. Ross Mackay’s production does this, not by dramatised confessionals, but by setting it in a landscape that could have been dreamt up for Black Mirror by way of Westworld.

The Vent of the title is a hi-tech state-of-art centre to which people with mental health issues are referred. Once in residence, the patients effectively role-play their assorted anxieties. These are brought to life by a regiment of robots who play all the other parts, taking each scenario to extremes. So a suicidal teenager is cajoled into squaring up to his more confident self; a harassed young mum finds out what would happen if she drowned her screaming baby; and a girl who ties herself up in knots with debt learns the power of talking to others.

Things don’t always go to plan, as Vent’s Frankenstein’s monster of co-counselling morphed with assorted radical therapies comes under official scrutiny that leads to the aforementioned public enquiry.

This is all deftly realised by Mackay’s well-drilled cast, with various scenarios woven together and linked by Vent’s hapless manager Phil having a crisis of his own inbetween sparring with the centre’s deceptively wise janitor George. This makes for much levity inbetween the serious and all too recognisable situations on show. In the end, the letting off of steam that Vent provides may not solve things, but as George’s parting words hint at, the mess the patients are dealing with is not of their making.

The Herald, July 25th 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…

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…