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Sixteen/The Severed Head Of Comrade Bukhari

The Arches, Glasgow - Tue 9-13 April 2008

Sex, violence and other-not-so cheap thrills have long provided outlets for corruptible youth in search of unknown pleasures. That's certainly the case in this double bill of work provided by this year's winners of the Arches Award for Stage Directors. These two very different rites of passage suggest a bleakly inquiring collective psyche at play.

Rob Drummond's Sixteen invites us to a coming-of-age party for the absent Sara, who plans to celebrate the occasion by having sex with her older boyfriend, Tony. He sits downstairs with Sara's mum and dad, whom age has withered into a frustrated impasse of sexual dysfunction and double entendres. Played in real time in the hour leading up to midnight, the increasingly oddball exchanges reveal Drummond as a purveyor of nouveau absurdism, made all the ickier in domestic close-up.

In The Severed Head of Comrade Bukhari, Daljinder Singh takes a script by Oliver Emanuel (for which she provided the idea) down even darker alleys. No wonder the four black-shirted youths killing time in the local underpass on the hottest bank holiday for years reference Graham Greene's Brighton Rock. When the opportunity for easy sex arises, their studied languor gives way to shocking revelations, all soundtracked by a jukebox medley of rock 'n' roll rebellion that adds a tad too much novelty value. Still, Singh sets up a series of moodily punctuated set-pieces of which Fassbinder would be proud, and both this and Sixteen suggest tomorrow's theatre-makers already occupy the refreshingly strangest of places.

The Herald - Thu 10 April 2008



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