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MAIM

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

Storm clouds have been gathering over the Isle of Mull, off Scotland’s west coast, since time immemorial. As this fascinating live collage of music, word and movement makes determinedly and poetically clear, in terms of land and language, the last century or so has seen things gather apace in dramatic fashion.

Instigated by Alasdair C. Whyte of Gaelic-based electronic duo, WHYTE, who appears onstage throughout, this is a fusion of deeply personal responses to how the Gaelic language has been all but wiped out. Over the 75-minutes of Muireann Kelly’s slow-burning production for Theatre Gu Leor, Whyte and co’s dramatic meditation looks to the pockets of island communities that once spoke and sang the language, but became collateral damage to those with grander schemes and deeper pockets. 

The litanies of lived experience from Whyte and fellow performers Elspeth Turner and Evie Waddell are set against the brooding atmospheric live melodies by WHYTE’s other half, Ross Whyte. Out of this emerges a patchwork of real-life stories that meld together alongside Jessica Kennedy’s choreography to mine something bigger.

Set against a backdrop of projected land masses conjured into being by Lewis Den Hertog on Jen McGinley’s set, the Gaelic poetry translated by way of English subtitles is heightened even more by Waddell introducing British Sign Language into the mix in a monologue made even more powerful by its silence.

While the experience of MAIM (it translates as panic, terror or alarm) comes from close to home, there are nods to more universal reverberations, so an initial sense of mourning eventually gives way to defiance and renewal in a show of collective strength. Out of this comes a bubbling hybrid that is part elegy, part call to arms as those caught in the crossfire learn to push, pull, give, take, ebb, flow and above all support each other in order to rise again.

The Herald, March 12th 2020.

ends



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