Skip to main content

Anatomy of a Suicide

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow
Four Stars

There is something unflinching about Alice Birch’s overlapping dramatic triptych, performed here with relentless drive by the RCS’ final year BA Acting students. This is the case from the play’s gauntlet-throwing title onwards, as it edges slowly but surely towards the inevitable set of conclusions it marks out across 70 years and three generations of women. The painful study of hand-me-down neuroses that unfurls across time-zones is forensic and at times harrowing in its matter-of-fact study of Carol, Anna and Bonnie, whose lives it maps and unravels as they mentally self-lacerate themselves to death.

As Carol, Vera Koski lays bare both her character’s quietly self-destructive tendencies and a perceptive and articulate self-knowingness, though Anna’s birth does nothing to heal her. Anna by turn goes her own way, going from heroin using wild child to worn-out mum at the end of her tether with the arrival of her daughter Bonnie. This is brought to life by Charlie Oscar with a mixture of bravado and vulnerability. Nancy Mitson’s Bonnie may be childless, but she too is laden with piled-on anxieties not of her making.   

As volleys of cross-talk rattle through the years, it becomes a dazzling atonal symphony of words from each timeline, the counterpoints of which are as insistent and as demanding as a modernist chorale or a Robert Ashley spoken-word opera. The occasional politesse of saying yes, no or thank-you are fleeting moments of unison across the years.

Director Finn den Hertog’s sensitive knitting together of the play’s various strands among his cast of eleven becomes a howl of hurt as troublingly intense as a Jane Arden film. Astrid Lindgreen Hjermind’s tile-covered set, meanwhile, suggests that wiping away the mess isn’t as easy as it looks. Koski, Oscar and Mitson’s portraits of three shades of despair suggests each woman might shatter into a thousand pieces any second in a staggering impressionistic evocation of fractured psyches in freefall.

The Herald, November 1st 2019

ends


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1 1. THE STONE ROSES   -  Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3   -  Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART   -  Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS   -  Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY  -  Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!   -  Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS  -  I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS  -  In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES   -  Everso 10. THE SEERS   -  Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND  -  You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS  -  We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE   -  Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS   -  Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND  -  In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES  -  Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS   -  Justice In Freedom (12" Version) 1. THE STONE ROSES    Don’t Stop ( Silvertone   ORE   1989) The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1 1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77) 3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77) 4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77) 5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77) 6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77) 7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77) 8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78) 9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78) 10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79)  11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79) 12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79)  13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79) 14. JOLT See Saw (6/79) 15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79) 16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79) 17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79) 18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79) 19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79) 20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79) 21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79) 22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79) 23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79) 24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80) 25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980) 1. THE REZILL

Edinburgh Rocks – The Capital's Music Scene in the 1950s and Early 1960s

Edinburgh has always been a vintage city. Yet, for youngsters growing up in the shadow of World War Two as well as a pervading air of tight-lipped Calvinism, they were dreich times indeed. The founding of the Edinburgh International Festival in 1947 and the subsequent Fringe it spawned may have livened up the city for a couple of weeks in August as long as you were fans of theatre, opera and classical music, but the pubs still shut early, and on Sundays weren't open at all. But Edinburgh too has always had a flipside beyond such official channels, and, in a twitch-hipped expression of the sort of cultural duality Robert Louis Stevenson recognised in his novel, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a vibrant dance-hall scene grew up across the city. Audiences flocked to emporiums such as the Cavendish in Tollcross, the Eldorado in Leith, The Plaza in Morningside and, most glamorous of all due to its revolving stage, the Palais in Fountainbridge. Here the likes of Joe Loss and Ted Heath broug