Skip to main content

The Infamous Brothers Davenport

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
4 stars
The audience are not only on their feet but are onstage inspecting the 
giant cabinet that dominates on entering this fiercely ambitious 
collaboration between Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison's Vox Motus 
company, playwright Peter Arnott and the Royal Lyceum. The conceit is a 
piece of Victorian hokum, in which the two Davenports of the title, Ira 
and Willie, conjure up spirits from within their cabinet under the 
half-lit scrutiny of a 'scientific spiritualist society'. Introduced by 
the grandiloquent Mr Fay under the watchful eye of the desperately 
seeking Lady Noyes-Woodhull, Willie, the younger of the two, is 
apparently possessed by his dead sister Katie as his spirit guide in a 
seance. When Willie goes off message, however, truth becomes far 
stranger than ghost stories.

As the spirit cabinet opens up, this reimagining of the real-life 
Davenports story lays bare the roots of their act in a damaged, 
bare-floorboards childhood, in which a hopped-up mother hallucinates 
heaven while a brutal father abuses Katie to death. The psycho-sexual 
scars are plain to see, particularly in Willie, as played by a 
whey-faced Scott Fletcher opposite his brother Ryan as a more 
practical, if perpetually perplexed Ira.

The first half-hour's box of vaudevillian tricks are but a 
curtain-raiser to what follows in a big, technically complex piece of 
Freudian expressionism, the very essence of which is about blind faith, 
hope and the power of suggestion. Accompanied by Phamie Gow and Jed 
Milroy's live piano and fiddle score, and with much emphasis on light 
and shade, Vox Motus have created a spine-tinglingly serious treatise 
on what the imagination might be capable of if we only let our demons 
out.

The Herald - January 26th 2012

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 …