Skip to main content

The Breathing House

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars
It’s a foolhardy theatre company that crams a full-length contemporary
epic with a cast of fifteen into the Tron’s Changing House studio space
with zero budget and expects not to come a cropper. Yet, by getting
creative and employing a refreshingly twenty-first century Poor Theatre
aesthetic to Peter Arnott’s 2003 tale of two cities set in nineteenth
century Edinburgh, Bill Wright’s boldy named shoestring outfit,
Rekindle Theatre, have achieved exactly that.

Dividing its time between New Town drawing rooms where cross-class
indiscretions are silently indulged, and old town flop-houses where
gentlemen go slumming for rough trade, Arnott’s play is a masterly
study of upstairs/downstairs hypocrisy. The old-fashioned tripod camera
that sits at the centre of a bare stage at its start will eventually
expose all of this, belonging as it does to the widowed Cloon, who
takes pictures of women at work even as he falls for his servant. His
friend Chanterelle, meanwhile, is a thrill-seeking dandy who’d rather
indulge his desires in secret. As ever, it’s the women you fear for
most.

Wright has taken what is essentially a moral tale and stripped it bare.
When not onstage, actors sit in the front row, their presence
suggesting they are silent witnesses to the litany of abuse and disease
playing out before them. Seeing the play in close-up, the prevailingly
still gloom that gives the production much of its snarling power also
lends things an intimacy beyond the politics. Accompanied by Rudi de
Groote’s live score played simply on piano and cello, Wright and co
display an impressively sharp use of stagecraft that here at least,
make an already big play even bigger.

The Herald, January 28th 2011

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

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…