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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me @markffisher and @writeabouttheat I am an Edinburgh-based freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian, Scotland on Sunday and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success, published in February 2012 and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers published in July 2015. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide. See my website for more information and comprehensive Scottish theatre links.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Theatre review: Glimmer

Published in the Guardian
Glas(s) Performance at Tramway, Glasgow
Four stars

’TIS THE season to be jolly. Unless you’re Megan Reid and you’re just not feeling it. No matter how many decorations, Christmas jumpers and festive movies your big sister Rosie throws at you, you’d sooner be snuggled up on the couch, keeping it mellow.

As far as plot goes, that’s about the limit of this two-hander by Glas(s) Performance, but that doesn’t stop it being a warming mince pie of a show, quietly digging into an ordinary family history to bring to the surface the bonds that hold us together. Inside this everyday relationship, they find something uplifting, tear-jerking and true.

Megan and Rosie are real-life sisters, graduates of the superb Junction 25 youth theatre run by directors Jess Thorpe and Tashi Gore. Megan is 22 and Rosie one year and two days older. Those two days, she insists, are important, which gives an idea of the quarrelsome territory we are in.

A kind of lopsided cabaret, Glimmer is powered by Rosie’s ebullience and disrupted by Megan’s laidback indifference. Even when persuaded to pick up her guitar, Megan offers only half-tempo indie-folk renditions of Christmas favourites, sweet-voiced but morose. Her downbeat vibe almost – but only almost – brings Rosie’s puppy-dog bouncing to a halt. After 22 years together, they have been here before and will be again.

But, just as neither has shaken off the squabbles of their childhood, neither has let go of the shared experience, the kinship and all those Christmases together. However mismatched they may seem physically and temperamentally, they have a relationship closer than any other. Just look at the gorgeous sequence where they watch It’s a Wonderful Life in positions more intimate than even lovers would adopt.

There is cruelty to come but beyond it a reconciliation rich in seasonal sentiment. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

© Mark Fisher 2014 
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Friday, December 12, 2014

Theatre review: The Devil Masters

Published in the Guardian
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Two stars

YOU KNOW know when you’re given a Christmas present, and you smile gratefully even though it’s misshapen, not to your taste and you’re not sure what it actually is? That’s what Orla O’Loughlin’s production of this comedy by Iain Finlay Macleod is like. The Devil Masters seems well intentioned, but it is hard to know what to do with it.

The scene is in an Edinburgh New Town living room – realised in stiflingly naturalistic detail by Anthony Lamble – where the Christmas Eve preparations of two dog-loving advocates are interrupted by an intruder with designs on their Skye terrier. One kidnap, attempted robbery and assault later, the tables are turned and the lawyers take charge. By the end, the tables have turned twice more.

It is not that Macleod is short of ideas. Has he written a class-conscious subversion of the drawing-room comedy? A Tarantino-esque vision of dog-eat-dog status games? A commentary on the slippery surfaces of language and identity, like his own excellent Somersaults? A tribute to the surrealism of Edward Albee’s Seascape? A Jekyll-and-Hyde satire on the division between Edinburgh’s haves and have-nots? A howl of outrage at the power accorded to the legal profession? A spiritual condemnation of those who replace family values with self-interest?

The Devil Masters is partly all of these things, but not fully any of them. It’s like watching the rough drafts of several plays at once. Sometimes one of them flashes into focus, and you find yourself laughing at some wordplay or gripped by a legal debate, but a moment later, you’re watching another play altogether.

Keith Fleming does a great job as the amorphous outsider who is psychopathic one minute and vulnerable the next, while John Bett and Barbara Rafferty play up the contradictions of the homeowners. But they are stuck in an overwrought production of curate’s egg of a play.

© Mark Fisher 2014 
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Theatre review: A Christmas Carol

Published in the Guardian
Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

YOU could mistake Cliff Burnett's Scrooge for a genial fellow. He's much given to chuckling and seems content with his place in the world. True, he resents his staff taking a day off for Christmas and delights in poking a carol singer in the eyes, but his complaints are less the view of a misanthrope than the expression of a reasoned political philosophy. His laughter is more complacent than cruel.

But in Dominic Hill's gloriously spooky production, played out in monochrome on Rachael Canning's set, Burnett's air of satisfaction becomes less secure. As the supernatural visitations enter his bedroom, his laugh becomes a nervous tick, an expression of doubt instead of certainty. With his red nose, white face and swept-back silvery hair, he is no pantomime baddie, but a misguided man whose worldview is genuinely rattled.

And who wouldn't be rattled by Canning's puppets? The ghost of Jacob Marley is a grinning skull with a grey wig and a torso draped in chains. The Ghost of Christmas Past has the body of a child and the blank-eyed face of a table lamp. At one point, sheets of ectoplasm waft through the auditorium. Only with the fortification of the interval can we cope with the vulture-like Ghost of Christmas Future, a looming giant decked in tattered strips of black material.

With the dissonant scrapes of Nikola Kodjabashia's live score falling into line with the poetic rhythms of Neil Bartlett's script, it's a dark and austere production that focuses on Scrooge's journey to self-realisation and goes sparingly on the "we was poor, but we was honest" sentimentality of the story. There is also joy in the creativity of the staging: the way the actors throw snow over themselves before coming on and rework Christmas carols to poke fun at Scrooge. It all makes for a rich and satisfying seasonal treat.

© Mark Fisher 2014 
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Theatre review: Miracle on 34 Parnie Street

Published in the Guardian
Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

THE 1947 seasonal favourite, Miracle on 34th Street, is a modest and sweet-natured comedy with the unfeasibly grand ambition to square the contradictory values of capitalism and religion. However greedy the market gets, the movie suggests, it's nothing that can't be solved by blind faith in a supernatural power. So when the real Father Christmas takes over the grotto at Macy's, he shows the money-grubbing store managers that altruism is not only an end in itself, it can be great for business too. They only have to believe.

If that sounds a stretch, there's an extra layer of faith required at the Tron where, in Miracle on 34 Parnie Street, the unglamorous road behind the theatre has become the location of TJ Confuse, a down-at-heel department store under threat of closure. Not only must we believe the real Father Christmas would fill the job vacancy in this unloved shop, but we must also accept she is female. 

And what a female. Played by writer and director Johnny McKnight in a spangly red dress and an arse designed for twerking, Kristine Cagney Kringle ("single and ready to mingle") is a hilariously improbable saviour of the Christmas spirit. Equally unlikely is that this predatory creature with a coruscating line in audience back-chat would be a multi-linguist who could tick off half-a-dozen languages in a single song. But the evidence is plain to see: Kristine Kringle is the true meaning of Christmas.

By sticking to the movie plot, with an added Machiavellian twist to make room for Darren Brownlie's loose-limbed panto baddie, McKnight holds on to the good-beats-evil message even as he is sending the whole thing up. In this, he is aided and abetted by the romper-suit cuteness of Gavin Jon Wright, the game-for-anything accents of Julie Wilson Nimmo and the awesome vocals of Michelle Chantelle Hopewell.

© Mark Fisher 2014 
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Theatre review: James and the Giant Peach

Published in the Guardian
Dundee Rep
Three stars

ONCE upon a time, all the theatre directors in the land decided it was their duty to provide an alternative to pantomime. They would call these performances Christmas shows and would fashion them out of the fairy stories that had inspired their commercial cousins, except these would be proper plays. 

All the boys and girls loved them and even the grown-ups were happy. But one day an evil spell was cast and the directors suddenly grew tired of their Cinderellas and their Snow Queens. "Surely there's something different we can put on," they cried. "What about some Roald Dahl?"

And there was no doubt that when they put on James and the Giant Peach in the short, sharp adaptation by David Wood, the children were happy. They liked it when director Jemima Levick made it look like the peach was growing with a series of ever-bigger orange umbrellas. They liked it when the insects became human-sized and took off on an adventure across the Atlantic. And they liked it when the peach appeared as an enormous orange balloon that bounced around the auditorium. 

But something was missing. It wasn't exactly that this story had nothing to do with Christmas or even winter, although that was an issue. It was more that its emphasis on escapist fantasy (a flying peach!) overshadowed the impulse for reconciliation that characterised the great archetypal narratives. 

After the death of James's Ugly-Sister aunts and the early conclusion of his Cinderella story, the boy, played attractively by Thomas Cotran, had to complete a long journey to New York without having any comparable emotional territory to cover. It made his victory seem hollow. This spiritual emptiness was exacerbated by the amplification of the actors, their well observed performances diminished by the air of frantic noisiness. The result was a peach-flavoured sweet instead of a genuine fruit.

© Mark Fisher 2014 
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Circus review: Scotch and Soda

Published in the Guardian
St Andrew Square, Edinburgh
Two stars

IT'S a formula with a proven track record. Last year's Limbo, the Australian centrepiece of Edinburgh's Christmas programme, which also enjoyed long runs in London, showed what could happen when you combined a crack team of musicians with a handful of skilled acrobats and framed them with a grungy cabaret aesthetic in the Paradiso Spiegeltent. 

Presented by the Underbelly and Company 2, Scotch and Soda ticks the same boxes, and has musicality enough to keep a festive audience diverted for 60 minutes, but it is no match for Limbo's sassiness, imagination and jeopardy.

The setting is an Austrian bar room where men in Tyrolean hats, braces and calf-length lederhosen play cards over a rough wooden table or knock the dust off ancient-looking suitcases. Ben Walsh's score for the Crusty Suitcase Band has an appropriately Germanic feel, expanding from a jaunty oompah two-step to old-time jazz and swing, with a brief diversion into a rumbling dub deconstruction to add an other-worldly touch to a solo trapeze routine.

Always on the move, the musicians give Scotch and Soda its character and shape, but they also make the circus tricks look like an afterthought. The show has its moments, such as the construction of an Empire State Building of packing cases or the long-bearded Mozes supporting his body by the nape of his neck, but they come in between a surfeit of routine tumbling, underwhelming handstands and sketches that come to nothing. Even the show's one novelty, an act involving three budgies hopping on and off a music stand, has an air of uncertainty.

That one is performed by co-director Chelsea McGuffin who is weirdly the show's only woman. I'd like to complain about the nine-to-one gender imbalance, but prefer to imagine the women have chosen wisely and somewhere a spirited all-female cast is performing a smarter, riskier, more awe-inspiring show.

© Mark Fisher 2014 
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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Theatre preview: Slava's Snowshow

Published in Scotland on Sunday

IT'S 1996 and, as the Edinburgh Fringe kicks off, there's concern at the Assembly Rooms about one of this year's big shows. It's a clown piece from Russia and, although it has already won a Time Out Award in London, nobody in Scotland knows what something with the mysterious name of Slava's Snowshow could be. Business at the box office is perilously sluggish.

The marketing department takes emergency action. Publicist Liz Smith has already seen the show in London and knows it has the potential to be a very big hit. "I thought it was the most incredible thing I'd ever seen," she says today. "But then in the first week it came to Assembly, it hadn't sold and it wasn't being talked about."

Setting out on a mission to make sure it was talked about, she started giving tickets away in the belief that word-of-mouth would do the rest. The plan worked. "We absolutely papered it for the first four or five days and then the following week you couldn't get a ticket," she recalls. "I remember people coming up to me and saying they'd like a ticket and I'd say, 'I'm really sorry, you can't get it now.'"

It was the only show on that year's Fringe that created a real buzz and it was a crucial step in Snowshow's road to global success. Two years later, it won the Olivier Award for Best Entertainment after its run at London's Old Vic and it has now been seen by more than 3 million spectators in 120 cities in 30 countries. In Russia, they've published a book called The Philosophy of Snowshow, with an English translation due out next year. Still going strong after more than 4000 performances, it is back at Edinburgh Festival Theatre after its last sell-out run in 2011.

For chief clown Slava Polunin himself, it'll be a delight to be back in a city that holds such happy memories. "The British people just opened the doors to this show," he says. "Edinburgh is a great festival. It's such a happiness and joy to be there. You can be there with or without a show, just being there, hanging around – it's such a specific atmosphere when the whole town is living the same event. I'm dreaming about going there again."

A world away from the knockabout pratfalls of the big top, Snowshow is poetic and poignant, a performance that turns the popular spectacle of clowning into a high art of visual grace. Full of magical transformations, it blends slapstick with beautiful imagery, gradually building towards the triumphant closing sequence in which Slava rips up a love letter only to watch it turn into a blizzard of snowflakes.

The joy is infectious and, indeed, connecting to the audience is something he can't avoid. "We have no choice because the people who are on the stage are in society, they are living life with people," he says. "They can't just be on stage and demonstrate something. What they need is to party and to be happy together with other people, with the audience."

Born in 1950 in small-town Novosil, 225 miles south of Moscow, Slava had an early love of Charlie Chaplin and Marcel Marceau which developed into a full-blown obsession with clowning. After training in St Petersburg, he honed his skills in mime, street theatre and visual comedy, setting up his first company, Litsedei, in 1979. 

He learnt not only from silent cinema but also from the silence of the great mime artists on stage. "The silence of Marceau was a great silence, a cosmic, magic silence," says Slava, who is also artistic director of the St Petersburg Circus. "I've also seen wonderful silence in the early shows of Jean-Louis Barraut [the French actor, director and mime artist]. It inspired me so much. I consider the greatest show on stage to be a silent one. Charlie Chaplin used music so it wasn't complete silence, but as a teacher, a master, he has a very important place for me. I love Chaplin's contemporary, Harry Langdon, even more. Langdon was much more fine tuned, much more tender, so I love him more than Chaplain."

Inheriting a tradition that extends all the way back to the theatre of ancient Greece and Rome, Slava practices the art of the outsider. He is the figure of fun who is secretly the wisest of all, the stumbling fool who is actually more dextrous than anyone, the grown-up man who has never lost his child-like sense of wonder and imagination. A clown, he says, is a "person who, on entering the room, brings joy and love for life".

Although it has its origins in the late 1980s, Snowshow has been reinventing itself ever since. It never stops changing. Slava has a profound belief in the importance of spontaneity and goes to great lengths to ensure he and his company stay creative. It means giving them holidays and encouraging them to develop outside interests – and it also means shaking things up every night. "This is a science and I am expert in it," he says. "You always have to find a new creative challenge for the team to keep the stage activity interesting. My performers know which part they are going to perform only half an hour before the show. All the time, we change direction, change the style and the mood of the show. That's very important to keep it interesting and fresh."

Slava's Snow Show, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, 3–6 December.

© Mark Fisher 2014 
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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Theatre review: The Voice Thief

Published in the Guardian
Catherine Wheels at Summerhall, Edinburgh
Five stars
WHAT makes novels such as 1984 and Brave New World so troubling is that you could imagine their plots happening for real. Wouldn’t we all be comforted by having an avuncular Big Brother in our lives? Which of us wouldn’t sign up to a soma holiday in a unified World State? It’s the same with the autocratic Dr Broderick Mackenzie in Catherine Wheels’ superb promenade performance: he’s scary because he is so reasonable.
Played by Ian Cameron, he’s a man you’d be happy to entrust your children to. With his extravagant hair and flamboyant neckerchief, he has a touch of the Willy Wonkas, but mainly, he projects a sense of reassurance. That’s why we willingly follow him into his Mackenzie Institute for the Encouragement of Vocal Harmony, despite having to put on masks and subject ourselves to the decontamination chambers of Karen Tennent’s endlessly inventive set.
It’s also why we go along with him as he describes his scientific method for removing unpleasant sounds from little girls’ voices. We sympathise with him for having oversensitive hearing and admire his laboratory technique for extracting just the right noise. Indeed, we’re quite a long way into Gill Robertson’s production before his daughter Beatrice (an excellent Jenny Hulse) finds the radical voice to tell us something is amiss. The man whose favourite record is the soundtrack to My Fair Lady is a kind of psychopathic Henry Higgins.
But this is no abstract dystopian fantasy. Scripted by Robert Alan Evans, The Voice Thief is a deeply felt cry of outrage at the injustice of female voices being silenced, emotions repressed and personalities muted. Going beyond the production’s sci-fi fun, Beatrice takes a revolutionary step towards emancipation, making it everything a piece of theatre should be: not just funny, tense and alarming, but politically engaged, angry and inspirational.
© Mark Fisher 2014 
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Theatre review: Colquhoun & MacBryde

Published in the Guardian
Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

WE'RE in the ration-book London of Dylan Thomas, Wyndham Lewis and Francis Bacon. It’s a curious place that swings from bohemian excess to battened-down austerity. Into this wartime world step Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde, graduates of the Glasgow School of Art hell-bent on smashing their way into the establishment – and smashing themselves up in the process.
Slimmed down to an efficient two-hander since its 1992 Royal Court debut, John Byrne’s play is a true-life portrait of two largely forgotten artists who arrived at the GSA a generation before he did. Played by Andy Clark as the talented Colquhoun and Stephen Clyde as the chippy MacBryde, they are a fascinating bundle of contradictions. Irreverent outsiders who yearn for approval, they have an equal passion for creativity and drunken self-destruction. They can switch from cruelty to tenderness within a sentence.
It takes a while for Andy Arnold’s studio production to settle and the scatter-gun gags of Byrne’s script to start hitting their mark, but once they do, the two actors do a gripping job. They are an us-against-the-world unit, a private and professional double act, whose relationship is characterised by mutual support and occasional bouts of jealousy, driven by an infectious combination of ambition and ability.
They are rock’n’roll rebels ahead of their time, who are defeated less by their hedonism than by forces beyond their control. Colquhoun and MacBryde’s era was one of rapid cultural change. One minute they were being feted as the natural successors to Picasso, their angular expressionism seeming bold and modern; the next, they were being eclipsed by Jackson Pollock, whose free-form abstractions made them look as dated as the crooners who came before Elvis. It all makes for a raucous and touching study of two men out of time.
© Mark Fisher 2014 
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Monday, October 27, 2014

Theatre review: Bondagers

Published in the Guardian
Royal Lyceum
Four stars

IMMEDIATELY in front of us, a woman is crouched down chopping turnips with a cleaver. In the middle of the stage, two others are knocking the earth off a crop of potatoes, while beyond them the lady of the house is chatting to one of the farmhands. And beyond them still, half hidden in the low winter mist, a figure is collecting sticks in a wicker basket.
This sense of space distinguishes Lu Kemp’s painterly staging of Sue Glover’s play, an evocation of life on a 19th-century Borders farm. From the moment the cast appear in silhouette at the back of Jamie Vartan’s elemental set, Kemp treats the stage like it had the full dimensions of a field. Thanks to Simon Wilkinson’s superb lighting, those dimensions are always uncertain. As the colour temperature increases from cold monochrome to chilly sepia, the landscape is always bigger than those who tread on it.
First seen in 1991, this contemporary Scottish classic is set at a time when male farm workers would be hired on condition of bringing a female worker, or bondager, with them. Poetic, musical and elliptical, the play rises organically from the soil, its narrative line about a sexual assault emerging almost accidentally from its imagistic collage.
Kemp’s six-strong cast hit a strident note from the start, their delivery as tough and hard-edged as the bondagers’ lives. Though they’re a tight acting ensemble, they’re playing women who are atomised and self-reliant. They are more likely to catch the audience in the eye than each other.At times the pitch is brash and unrelenting, but the production brilliantly captures the play’s swirling impressionism, segueing from folk ballad to clog dance to field tilling as it feeds on Glover’s understated feminist rage.
© Mark Fisher 2014 
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Theatre review: The Gamblers

Published in the Guardian
Greyscale/Dundee Rep
Three stars

NOBODY is what they seem in Nikolai Gogol’s comedy of card sharps and confidence tricksters. The play that set the template for David Mamet’s House of Games and The Spanish Prisoner, not to mention eight series of the BBC’s Hustle, recognises the innate theatricality of the grifter’s art. The pretence of the stage neatly parallels the pretence of the conman. Before long we’re dealing with deceits within deceits within deceits.
That seems to be why Selma Dimitrijevic’s production for Greyscalebegins in a locker room with the six actors getting changed from their everyday clothes into the trousers, braces and jackets of Gogol’s 19th-century gamblers. It also seems to be why they change, in the process, from female to male.
Along with Maxine Peake playing Hamlet in Manchester and Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female Henry IV in London, Dimitrijevic’s production is part of an unofficial autumn assault on theatre’s well-documented male dominance. Valuable corrective it may be, but whether it adds anything to the play, newly translated by Dimitrijevic and Mikhail Durnenkov, is a moot point.
This man’s world of status games, brinkmanship and bravado is neither illuminated nor satirised by the casting. Although the actors make some attempt at male body language, they go only so far and don’t appear to have anything to say about male behaviour. Less aggressive, more accommodating and quicker to smile than your average group of men, they call attention to the pretence without offering any insight in return.
All the same, it’s a fluidly staged production, with a strong ensemble spirit and a lively musicality. Amanda Hadingue proves there’s no one more gullible than a conman as her Iharev goes from self-satisfied trickster to bewildered victim, stitched up by a cool and confident Hannah McPake as Uteshitelny who shows herself master of “social engineering of the highest order”.
© Mark Fisher 2014 
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Monday, October 13, 2014

Theatre review: Three Sisters

Published in the Guardian

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

WATCHING John Byrne’s new adaptation of the Chekhov classic, it’s hard to put aside the memory of Alasdair Gray’s notorious “colonisers and settlers” essay. This was the pre-referendum broadside in which the novelist used the loaded language of imperial Britain to describe incomers to Scotland. As Gray saw it, there were those who used the country as a stepping stone for a career elsewhere and those who stayed to make a lasting contribution.
Seen in these terms, Byrne’s three sisters, renamed Olive, Maddy and Renee Penhalligan, plus brother Archie, are instinctive colonisers. They’re an upper-class English military family at the start of the 1960s, shored up in small-town Dunoon because of its proximity to the Holy Loch submarine base, but wishing all the while to be in London. Circumstance, however, makes them settlers. They may dream of the big city, they may be bored by provincial life, they may quote Rupert Brooke’s line about “some corner of a foreign field” being “for ever England”, but, whether as teacher or as district councillor, they are slowly becoming rooted.
If anything, it’s the locals who are most damaged by the dysfunctional relationship. Somewhere off stage, an officer’s wife is making suicide attempts, while Louise McCarthy as Archie’s new wife Natasha replicates the class power structure as she goes from Wemyss Bay innocent to tyrannical lady of the manor. With Byrne’s characteristic wit, she takes on a strangulated hybrid Anglo-Scots accent as she does so.
Elsewhere, the Anglophone setting minimises the opportunity for Byrne’s most baroque language, but director Andy Arnold does the adaptation tremendous justice in a beautifully controlled staging that’s loaded with fine performances. With their radiant red ringlets and sliding scale of accents, Muireann Kelly, Sally Reid and Jessica Hardwick make a compelling central trio, all dry wit and tough sisterly honesty, resignedly tolerating Jonathan Watson’s touchingly ineffectual Archie.
© Mark Fisher 2014 
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Thursday, October 02, 2014

Theatre review: Outlying Islands

Published in the Guardian
Seen at Heart of Hawick
Three stars

WHEN civilisation finally catches up with Shakespeare’s Prospero and Miranda in The Tempest, there’s the assumption that they’ll leave their island behind. This magic and wildness is all very well, but it’s no match for society. Heading back to Italy, with all its order and discipline, is taken as read.
There’s a similar conflict between the tame and the wild in David Greig’sOutlying Islands. First seen in 2002 and now revived by director Richard Baron in a quietly absorbing production for the Borders-based Firebrand company, it begins with two young men from the ministry showing up on an Outer Hebridean rock.
This is 1939 and, with war breaking out in Europe, the island could be the wilderness the authorities need to carry out their anthrax tests. That’s news to James Rottger’s buttoned-up John and Martin Richardson’s libertarian Robert. As far as they’re concerned, they’re here to conduct an ornithological survey. To spend a few weeks in such a pristine environment has been their lifetime ambition.
As in The Tempest, it’s assumed they’ll go back home at the end of their stay. But what would happen, speculates Greig, if nature overwhelmed their stiff-upper-lip reserve? What if the island’s Miranda – Helen Mackay’s wide-eyed Ellen – offered an alternative way to live with her seductive mixture of innocence and sexual freedom? What if the opportunity to swim naked, to be unobserved, to be as unburdened by morality as the animals, became too great to resist? Why leave the island at all?
In this way, John and Robert are opposing aspects of our own personalities. We empathise with the self-restraint of one, but envy the lack of inhibition of the other and, once they’ve seen off the paternalistic hand of Crawford Logan as Ellen’s uncle, it’s hard to see why they shouldn’t answer the call of the wild.
© Mark Fisher 2014 
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