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A Slow Dissolve (4 stars)/The Chalky White Substance/The Municipal Abattoir (3 stars)

Glasgay@The Arches, Glasgow

The camp ragtime that ushers the audience into Barry Henderson's boudoir for his very personal view of Tennessee Williams in A Slow Dissolve is deceptive. On a set pasted with torn-out pages of the great manメs works, Henderson relates a series of close-ups of real life encounters inbetween impressionistic dissections of what Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire in particular means to him. Out of all this is served up a lucid cider cocktail of confessional auto-biography, literary homage and personal purging.

One minute Henderson is talking about how Marlon Brando had to be sewn into his t-shirt to make it ultra-tight, the next he's playing out the whole of Streetcar with Barbie and Ken figurines and dollメs house accessories. He also makes the play's gay iconography clearer than perhaps ever before in this most intimate of performance art style meditations.

The double-bill of late Williams shorts that precede it are similarly off-kilter. Both The Chalky White Substance and The Municipal Abattoir are set in some post-apocalyptic twilight zone, and both pair an older man with a younger. The Chalky White Substance finds the Younger clinging, in a world where women are dieing off, to his elder benefactor for sex. What could be just some futuristic sugar daddy/rent boy exchange, however, seems to predict the rise of the then unknown AIDS virus. The Municipal Abattoir is more Kafkaesque, as a revolutionary boy suggests free will to a repressed worker only to abuse this new power. Drew Taylorメs production, performed by Mark Kydd, David Ashwood and Nicola Brown on a debris-strewn, sheet-covered set, fleshes Williams' imperfect but still thought-provoking sketches on life and death with sensitivity and insight.

The Herald, October 24th 2008

ends

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