Skip to main content

Interiors / The Destroyed Room

Royal Lyceum Theatre
Five stars

When Matthew Lenton's Glasgow-based Vanishing Point theatre company first presented Interiors in 2009, this close-up meditation on human behaviour behind closed doors put the company on the international touring map in a way that became a benchmark for how expansive home-grown theatre can be. Seven years on, seeing it back to back in an Edinburgh International Festival double bill with the company's's more recent construction, The Destroyed Room, first seen earlier this year, is a chance for long-term VP watchers and novices alike to reflect on the umbilical link between the two pieces.

In Interiors, the audience peer through the windows of a small house on the longest night of the year in the bleakest of mid-winters. Inside, an annual dinner party held by an older man and his grand-daughter is being prepared to celebrate the move from darkness into light. As the guests arrive, expectation and social politesse give way to a set of everyday exchanges between friends, lovers and strangers no-one will ever see again that will add up to make it one more night to remember.

In a set-up that sounds somewhere between Alan Ayckbourn and Abigail's Party, the action is seen but not heard, with the only words spoken being those by an un-named young woman who becomes spectral narrator, betrayer of secrets and the play's heart. Played by Elicia Daly, this ushers in a mix of pathos and comic business aplenty from Lenton's cast of eight, who navigate Kai Fischer's glass-fronted set onto which Finn Ross' projections are beamed.

After so many years since its inception, the emotional weight of the show has grown with an experience that heightens its essence of life, love, longing and loss, and where, accompanied by the meditative langour of Alasdair Macrae's piano-led score, the world keeps on turning no matter what.

This is the case too in The Destroyed Room, where a similar social gathering takes place in a seemingly verite situation, as actors Daly, Pauline Goldsmith and Barnaby Power take the stage in what looks like an open-ended late-night TV chat show. Overseen by two cameras that project their every utterance in close-up on a screen above, the trio embark on a moral maze of a discussion that might well have fuelled the dinner table banter in Interiors. Here, however, the audience are invited to observe the

chattering classes from the inside, even as the low rumble that gradually permeates the four walls of the theatre seems to suggest the world is collapsing beyond them.

As things take a calculated lurch into real life, what follows beyond the wine-fuelled sparring is the ultimate guilt trip in a wilfully provocative work which by turns startles and discomforts in a way that durational live art might. In a more formal theatrical context, however, The Destroyed Room is the more globally devastating flipside of Interiors. Both works book-end Vanishing Point's gimlet-eyed fascination with voyeurism in a way that proves as irresistible as it is compelling.

The Herald, August 8th 2016

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 …