Skip to main content

The Air That Carries The Weight

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

Bird-song permeates the air as the audience settle in to watch Rebecca Sharp's poignant and elegiac dramatic tone poem on loss and life. These little chirrups are just a hint of the ancient whispers that will skitter around the room later in Muriel Romanes' production, a fittingly lovely finale to her tenure as artistic director of the Stellar Quines company.

In a dilapidated cottage surrounded by bare trees in the wild cross-winds of Argyll, three women stand, attuning themselves to a seemingly unfavourable environment. The first, Isobel, as played by Melody Grove, is the most discomforted as she both mourns and excavates her shared history with Pauline Lockhart's Yvonne. Pivoting around them both is the real life figure of Marion Campbell, the Kintyre-based archaeologist and explorer of the land she inhabited, and here played with wise grace by Alexandra Mathie. Out of this comes a series of criss-crossing meditations that becomes a voyage of discovery for Isobel even as she comes to terms with ghosts who watch over her like cross-generational angels.

It's rare for all of a play's different elements to be so connected as they are when Sharp's poetic imaginings are made flesh by a beguiling trio of performances. The light and shade of John Byrne's pastoral-domestic design, Jeanine Byrne's flickering lighting and Pippa Murphy's ornate and arcane score wrap around each other like intertwining roots that nurture each other as they go. All of this is tended with gossamer-like precision by Romanes, who makes a slow-burning ritual out of Sharp's heartfelt text which, by embracing the life left behind, honours the dead with the most beautiful of tributes.

The Herald, March 28th 2016

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ceildh

Tron Theatre, Glasgow Three stars
One kiss is all it takes for everyone to understand each other in Catriona Lexy Campbell and Mairi Sine Campbell’s new play. Linguistically that is, as ancient and modern are brought to rollickingly intimate life by the Gaelic-based Theatre Gu Leor (Theatre Galore) company in the Tron’s Vic Bar en route to an extensive cross-Scotland tour. The set-up is the sort of ghastly tartan-draped corporate function whose perma-grinning hostess Lisa makes bogus claims of preserving culture while blatantly intent on flogging it off to the highest bidder. Think McWetherspoon by way of Trumpageddon.
With the audience ushered into a cabaret table arrangement by Lisa’s step-daughter Eilidh and serenaded by Eddie’s oh-so-couthy accordion playing, the dirt from Harris is unearthed along with a bottle of David Beckham-branded whisky. This causes the corporate shindig to be disrupted on an epic scale by seventeenth century poet Mairi Ruadh. Which is when both the kissing an…

The Duke

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Four stars
Shon Dale-Jones seems like a very nice chap. You can tell from the way he welcomes each member of the audience into the theatre, shaking them by the hand to a soundtrack of energising 1960s feel-good soul. Such a personable approach helps create a warm and intimate atmosphere, so when he sits at a desk with only a laptop, a volume control and us for company, you can’t help but be charmed from the start of this hour-long foray, both into his own fantastical mind as well as the discursive set of first-world contradictions it lets loose into the world.
It begins with a Royal Worcester porcelain figure of the Duke of Wellington on horseback, which Dale-Jones’ dad bought in 1974 for £750. This would make it worth more than £8,000 in today’s money if his mum hadn’t broken it while dusting. This is just one more thing for Dale-Jones to think about as he attempts to apply a script doctor’s ruthless critique onto a film script he’s been working on for a deca…

This House

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh Four stars
Five years is a long time in politics just as it is in the theatre. When James Graham’s epic reimagining of one of the most pivotal eras in late twentieth century British democracy first appeared in 2012, its depiction of the aftermath of the 1974 hung parliament in Westminster chimed with a then current coalition. Half a decade and a couple of referendums on, Graham’s dramatic whizz through to 1979’s successful vote of no confidence in the Labour government now looks like a warning.
Jeremy Herrin and Jonathan O’Boyle’s touring revival of a production first seen at the National Theatre begins with both sides of the House marching en masse in their grey suits and twin-sets down the aisles of the auditorium before cutting a well-choreographed rug in formation. As the Labour and Tory whips mark out their territory away from the chamber, this proves to be one of the few moments of unity in a breathless yarn that picks at the old-school gentleman’s agree…