Skip to main content

The Last Bordello


Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

When the curtain opens at the start of David Leddy’s new play for his Fire Exit company in co-production with the Tron, it becomes clear that the six characters in search of an author onstage are as screwed up as the scrumpled programmes the audience have been tempted with at the door. The scene is apparently a war-torn brothel in Gaza circa 1970, where David Rankine’s horny Palestinian teen Mitri has been sent by his brother to become a man. Ushered into a flamboyant world of madams, maids, harlots and whores of every shape, size, colour and persuasion, Mitri may go willingly, but he soon becomes complicit in his own slow torture.  

With the bombs outside sounding more like muffled depth charges, the sexual revolution may appear to be in full swing, but this is the brothel’s final day, a closing down sale of sorts where anything goes. To entertain Mitri, each takes it in turns to tell their story, so it becomes a parlour room cabaret while they wait on the Godot-like maestro, aka brothel-creeping ex con turned man of letters and unrepentant purveyor of the sacred and profane, Jean Genet. As his spirit haunts the place, so too do possibly second-hand memories of the bordello in Barcelona he made himself at home inside.

Leddy’s own production constructs an unhinged Russian doll of a play, where occupants of this self-created republic’s surface sumptuousness try on different identities for size as they shelter from the blast. As Helen McAlpine’s Darling, Vari Sylvester’s Irma, Irene Allan’s Madame, Apphia Campbell’s Virtue and Matthew McVarish’s sailor-suited and tellingly named Fassbinder lead us on towards the big reveal, image is everything in a last-gasp evocation of cracked and corrupted beauty.

The Herald, February 19th 2018

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

The Divide

King's Theatre
Four stars

Everything is black and white in Alan Ayckbourn's new play, a six hour two part epic set in a dystopian future where men and women are segregated from each other following the aftermath of an unspecified plague. Into this landscape, the secret diaries of brother and sister Elihu and Soween are brought to life by Jake Davies and Erin Doherty with a wide-eyed lightness of touch as their hormones get the better of them when they both hit puberty.
Annabel Bolton's production for the Old Vic, EIF and Karl Sydow begins with a TED Talk type lecture that reveals the back story to how things turned out this way. It ends with a sentimental love story designed to tug the heart-strings. Inbetween, there is teenage rebellion aplenty against the regime's institutionalised repression. Liberation comes through art and sex, which, in such extreme circumstances become even greater life forces.

With both plays told through the siblings' diaries alongside ass…