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Six Plays Inspired by the Songs of Kate Bush

Rose Theatre, Edinburgh
Three stars

Short Attention Span Theatre has been on the go for four years now, founded by Karen Barclay and Tom Brogan to showcase compendiums of quick-fire theatrical miniatures. Presented in a lo-fi, DIY style, the company’s monthly Edinburgh nights form part of the Gilded Balloon’s Basement Theatre programme.

This latest package followed on from an earlier wheeze to present work inspired by the back catalogue of avant-pop’s other great drama queen, David Bowie. While none of the half-dozen bite-size offerings came close to Kate Bush’s own sense of the flamboyantly theatrical, the lateral-thinking chutzpah of all six writers saw them take imaginative leaps away from their source material, awash with love, anger and heavy people to the fore.  

The first of two plays called The Man With The Child in His Eyes saw Tom Murray’s doctor’s office duologue move into eye-poppingly fantastical terrain. Under Ice by John Wilde put a couple in a hotel room as their relationship turned cold. Things lightened up for Alex Cox’s take on King of the Mountain, in which a disgraced cyclist attempts to get back in the saddle by flogging used cars.

The second half opened with Carl Pickard’s all too appropriately named Wow, an acronymically inclined spy yarn that displayed a working knowledge of 1970s novelty pop hits and super-heroines’ secret identities, with a cockney Bush herself making an appearance. Ian Low’s take on The Man With The Child In His Eyes found a man taken off guard by a ten-year-old girl calling herself the Watchman, and who might just make magic happen. Finally, Houdini saw Felix O’Brien set up a séance, as suspension of disbelief conjured up much hilarity.

With directorial duties split between Barclay and Daniel Gee Husson, the company’s ensemble of Sarah C Meikle, Grant McDonald, Hayleigh Meg, Mick Cullen, Johanna Harper and Emma Findlay dovetailed their way through each play with impressive relish. Let’s just hope we’re not waiting ten years for the follow-up.

The Herald, June 13th 2019


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