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Five-Minute Theatre

Various venues
4 stars
It's 4.55pm on a rainy midsummer solstice, and at assorted hubs around
Scotland, the logo on the National Theatre of Scotland website looks
suspiciously like the BBC's old trade test transmission, cheesy muzak
and all. By 5.01pm, however, actress Sally Reid is being beamed in from
Perth Theatre, where she is playing the venue's ghost in a fittingly
theatrical opening monologue for this unprecedented live streaming of
two hundred and thirty-five bite-size plays broadcast over twenty-four
hours across the world. Ten minutes later, Tam Dean Burn is wearing a
toy theatre on his head beside the Clyde with a glove puppet salmon on
one hand and the rush-hour traffic behind while Beltane style
percussion is beaten out. Within the hour we've seen a swimming pool
choir, a Gaelic internet dating yarn and several contemporary dance
troupes from all parts of Scotland and beyond.

There's brilliant work too by Douglas Maxwell and Dundee Rep, a
fantastic piece from Alison Peebles and Anne Lacey, and Stasi
Schaeffer's inspired boardroom-set contemporary version of Ane Satyre
of the Thrie Estaits. But this isn't just about the professionals. This
is about joining in and showing off a multitude of talents in a way
that captures the ongoing crossing of boundaries between audience and
performer, and where participation is a communal need.

Given the scale and complexity of the operation things are charmingly
shambolic at times, with lost links and frozen screens recalling the
early, gloriously anarchic days of Channel Four, when physical-based
pieces like Jamp and Watch Me Disappear would have been a staple. For
those who missed some of these, they are downloadable now as a
magnificent living archive of a nation at play.

The Herald, June 23rd

ends

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