Skip to main content

Paul Rooney – Lost High Street

Collective Gallery, Edinburgh – May 31 – July 12 2008
It’s a good life on the buses. Ask Paul Rooney, whose alter-ego revisits his alma mater via the tourist route on an open-topped double-decker in this newly commissioned video installation, which plays on the sort of wood-finish screen every des-res aspired to in the three-channel age.

Like a VHS version of Lindsay Anderson’s ‘The White Bus’, which sent ‘A Taste Of Honey’ writer Shelagh Delaney’s own imagined self on an impressionistic voyage round her native Salford, Rooney’s journey isn’t so much into some urban heart of darkness, but visits a leaf-lined, heritage-industry limbo where the ghosts of wartime spies lurk.

Unlike ‘The White Bus,’ there are no stopping off points in ‘Lost High Street.’ Rather Rooney is trapped on some Sisyphean Groundhog Day, sentenced to traverse the streets of Edinburgh forever, undercover and in danger of being shot by both sides, whoever they might be.

Such first-person interior monologues are the raison-detre of Rooney, who last graced MAP’s pages with ‘Lucy Over Lancashire,’ a 12-inch single on which an imagined sprite regaled her lusty tale of life and death trapped within the record’s grooves. A more formal narrative is contained in ‘Failing That,’ the published text that formed part of his recent ‘La Decision Doypack’ show at Matt’s Gallery in London. Even more ambitious, ‘The Pendular Destabiliser Show,’ a new sound-based work at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, imagines two Paris ’68 radicals arguing through a hole in the wall.

‘Lost High Street’ is more personal, a nostalgic wander through old haunts Rooney’s character can no longer visit, but only see life through a lens as if occupying some shaky-handed DIY Cold War flick. Its spindly punk theme song, ‘performed’ by tour guide Aileen, could be a kindred spirit of Lucy’s, and suggests a kind of Rooney-verse, parallel or not, in which all his characters will eventually connect up to create some kind of six degrees of separation soap opera.

Accompanying ‘Lost High Street,’ ‘Monster’ dates from 2004, and was filmed in Melbourne, Australia. As filmed street scenes are reflected into mirrors either side of the scene, a male Australian voice recounts what may be the collected works of imagined poet Ern Malley. The result is a quasi-Whickeresque travelogue which, if you stand just-so, gives the viewer a glimpse of infinity which Rooney-verse is already orbiting.

MAP issue 15, July 2008

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…

Rob Drummond – The Mack

Rob Drummond was at home in England when he looked at the news feed on his phone, and saw a post about the fire at Glasgow School of Art. It was June 2018, and the writer and performer behind such hits as Grain in the Blood, Bullet Catch and Our Fathers initially presumed the post was to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 blaze in GSA’s Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing a major restoration after much of it was destroyed.
As it turned out, the news was far worse, as reports of a second fire were beamed across the world. As someone who had taken Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic construction for granted while living in Glasgow, Drummond was as stunned as anyone else with even a passing relationship with the Mack.
While emotions continue to run high in response to the disaster, Drummond channelled his thoughts on all this into what he does best. The result is The Mack, a new play that forms part of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and a Pint lunchtime theatre season in Glasgow prior …