Skip to main content

Year of the Horse

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars
Harry Horse was without doubt the most savage political cartoonist of his era. The untimely and controversial death at the start 2007 of the artist formerly known as Richard Horne has made his increasingly angry back catalogue the stuff of legend. The premise of Tam Dean Burn’s hour-long homage is simple. Present each of Horse’s fifty two cartoons which appeared in the Sunday Herald throughout 2006 as a rolling slide show, with Burn himself mouthing the accompanying texts penned by Horse, and let them stand unadorned as the most visceral documents of modern times.

The result, underscored by the insistent electronic throb of Keith McIvor’s sound collage, is an intensely powerful piece of polemic and poetry that doesn’t just shove its targets around like much satire. Rather, it lacerates Blair, Bush, Brown and co with a mixture of increasingly personalised venom married to classical and pop cultural allusions born at punk’s crucible. Dressed in a white hoodie that bleaches into camouflage when the images project onto him, Burn becomes a Zelig-like chorus declaiming on the atrocities depicted, be they the bombing of Iraq or the way governments become the pushers of prescriptive drugs.

In delivery it’s as simple as it is relentless, and one can only speculate what Horse’s response to the recent outrages in Gaza might have been, though one suspects they would be in keeping with Burn’s own. It was Burn, after all, who led a moral boycott of the BBC after its blanket refusal to air an appeal for aid in the region. In stands like these, and in ad-hoc works such as Year of the Horse, Burn is rapidly becoming a very necessary conscience of the nation.

The Herald, February 23rd 2009

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…

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…