Skip to main content

Fringe Theatre 2018 - Erewhon, Summerhall, Four stars / The Last Straw, Summerhall, Four stars

The world is slowly but surely turned upside down in Erewhon, Arthur Meek’s quasi-steam-punk reimagining of Samuel Butler’s nineteenth century novel of the same name. Accompanied by musician Eva Prowse, who provides a dream-laced soundscape on keyboards, guitar and spectral-sounding voice, Meek’s reinvention takes the form of a magic lantern show and old-school Victorian lecture. Meek picks up Butler’s mantle to reveal an imperfect idyll that has rewound on itself, with divisive technology ditched in favour of a matriarchal queendom.

The upper-crust horror of Butler’s colonialist reaction to such progressive attempts at civilisation may be grotesquely comic, but this international co-production between New Zealand-based artist Meek and Edinburgh’s Magnetic North company nevertheless taps into an all too current attempt to rewind the clock on old ideas of empire while effectively taming the natives. Meek’s telling in Nicholas Bone’s production incorporates infinitely more modern machinery to relay his and Butler’s satire to a global village which itself might be going nowhere in a witty and lyrical excavation of times past.

Things are looking considerably bleaker in The Last Straw, aka People Show 130, in keeping with the UK’s premiere performance group’s meticulous chronology of their work over the last half century. Here, this newly devised show puts a man and a woman in a room, where they shelter from the blast outside as they attempt to make some kind of meaning from the shredded certainties that litter the floor.

A door acts as both barrier and gateway to who-knows-where? Low hums of sound ebb and flow throughout the pair’s exchanges, occasionally building to fever-pitch crescendos. As the survivors, Gareth Brierley and Fiona Creese go from small talk to gobbledegook to something resembling sense. When Brierley talks of a world where all-powerful bears control increasingly terrified squirrels, the metaphor isn’t hard to spot in something resembling Waiting for Godot for the post-truth age.

The Herald, August 22nd 2018

ends


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Clybourne Park

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy Four Stars
It’s a case of whoops, there goes the neighbourhood twice over in Rapture Theatre’s revival of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which opens in 1959 in the same Chicago suburb where Lorraine Hansberry’s drama, A Raisin in the Sun, which appeared that year, is set. Here, Robin Kingsland’s Russ and his wife Bev, played by Jackie Morrison, are preparing to move out of their now almost empty des-res following a family tragedy.
Unknown to them, the bargain basement price tag has enabled a black family to move in, with Jack Lord’s uptight Karl a self-appointed spokesperson for the entire ‘hood. Russ and Bev’s black maid Francine (Adelaide Obeng) and her husband Albert (Vinta Morgan), meanwhile, bear witness to a barrage of everyday racism. Fast forward half a century, and a white family are trying to buy the same house, albeit with a heap of proposed changes which the black couple representing the block’s now much more diverse community aren’t…

Michael Rother - Sterntaler at 40

"There's so much to do," says an uncharacteristically flustered Michael Rother. The normally unflappably beatific German guitarist, composer and former member of Neu! and Harmonia, who also had a stint in a nascent Kraftwerk, is packing for live dates in Russia and the UK, including this weekend's show at the Queen Margaret Union in Glasgow.
"It has always been my choice to take care of these things myself and not have a manager," he says. "Somehow for me the independent aspect of doing things is really important, but it has its disadvantages."
As well as playing selections from Neu! and Harmonia, the trio he formed with Dieter Moebius and Hans Joachim Roedelius of Cluster, Rother's Glasgow date will see him play a fortieth anniversary rendering of his second solo album, Sterntaler, in full. Rother will be accompanied by guitarist Franz Bargmann and drummer Hans Lampe, the latter of whose musical involvement with Rother dates back to Neu! days, …

Giles Havergal - CATS Awards 2019

Giles Havergal has always been the perfect host. During his thirty-odd year tenure as co-artistic director of the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, Havergal would be there in the foyer on each opening night, meeting and greeting with an old school charm that came to define the Gorbals-based emporium. While many directors prefer to duck out of view, only meeting their public once the first night stresses have subsided, in contrast, Havergal seemed joyously unfazed by such things. Only when he was acting in a show was he absent from his task.
All of which makes Havergal the ideal choice as guest presenter of this year’s Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland, the ceremony for which takes place at Tramway in Glasgow this Sunday afternoon. This year’s awards see a smorgasbord of productions and artists from the last year’s crop of home-grown shows celebrated by Scotland’s theatre critics in its annual ceremony.
With winners announced on the day, nominations include Birds of Paradise and the Na…