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Thank God For John Muir

Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh
Three stars

On a patch of leaf-sodden earth, a young man sits on a wooden chair, his eyes bound as if blinded by a blast from some bomb-powered war. As it is, the man who will go on to become the world's first eco-warrior has temporarily lost his sight in an accident at a saw-mill in his birth-place in nineteenth century Dunbar. Over the fifty minutes of Andrew Dallmeyer's interior monologue, Muir's spidey-senses are a-tingle as his sensory antennae becomes more sensitive to a natural world of sound rather than vision. As he notices the flow of rivers and the noises around him, the epiphany that engulfs him once he regains his sight prompts him to get back to nature and devote himself to a world beyond the all-encroaching industrial revolution.

Originally seen at Oran Mor in 2011 as part of the Glasgow venue's A Play, A Pie and A Pint season of lunchtime theatre, Dallmeyer's play is revived here in a new production by Paul Brotherston for a season of Muir-devoted projects taking place largely on the great environmentalist's own doorstep. With actor Eddy Hull stepping into Muir's shoes, Dallmeyer's script is an impassioned and impressionistic look at how senses can work overtime when one of them is lacking.

As he imagines everything around him, the descriptions culled from Muir's head are akin to a latter day radio broadcast by Chris Watson, that greatest of contemporary sonic explorers and sound recordist of the natural world. Like Watson, Muir was a pioneer who understood the value of public spaces, and why they should be left unravaged by predatory forces who would destroy them.
 
The Herald, March 16th 2015

ends


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