Skip to main content

Women of the Hill

CCA, Glasgow
Four stars


The low whoosh of rolling thunder that slices through the air at the start of Hanna Tuulikki’s reimagining of her dramatic song cycle originally seen on Skye in 2015 is given extra low-flying heft by the gargantuan figure creating it. Towering some twenty-odd feet in height, with the train of her pure white dress billowing beneath and sporting a plant-based head-dress created by artist Caroline Dear, the instrument she spins above her head is as deadly as the wordless chorale that emanates from her mouth. As embodied by Tuulikki herself with monumental grace, this is Cailleach, the ancient goddess of winter, and she’s spoiling for a fight.

She gets one too when Lucy Duncombe enters as her opposite number, Bride, attempting to hold on to all that blossoms in the face of the coming freeze, but dwarfed somewhat by the opposing elements. As the pair spar in and out of harmony, their to-and-fro exchanges morph into a primal form of flyting. A third voice, from Nerea Bello, sees the trio keen with mournful abandon, laying the old seasons to rest before the new one blows in.

Tuulikki’s creation was first performed in the open-air beside the hidden underground of Skye’s High Pasture Cave and was originally commissioned by the island’s ATLAS Arts organisation. This indoor reimagining accompanied the CCA’s Lilt, Twang, Tremor exhibition, which Tuulikki shares with Sarah Rose and Susannah Stark. Over the piece’s forty-five-minute duration, a matriarchal sense of unity is conjured up with a kinetic intensity that eventually gives way to playfulness. Going on this showing, it deserves to have a more substantial run, be it indoors or out. By the end, it becomes a form of purging, with Tuulikki and co shouting out loud for what they’ve lost, but more importantly for everything that lies ahead.


The Herald, January 15th 2018


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…