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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, March 17, 2010

Empty/Mr Write theatre review

Published in The Guardian

Mr Write
5 out of 5

Empty
1 out of 5

Tron, Glasgow

Imagine being the only sober guest at a party of teenagers. Imagine you don't know any of them. Imagine they get drunker still. The evening would be deeply tedious. About as tedious as Cathy Forde's Empty, in which a 16-year-old's attempt to get a snog spirals into an orgy of sex, drugs and flooded bathrooms.

Vicky Featherstone's production for the National Theatre of Scotland does this very realistically, but it's only partial compensation for a play that's all incident and no drama. It bashes on from one act of domestic destruction to the next, but nothing changes.

What a contrast to Rob Drummond's Mr Write, an unmissable treat showing as part of the same three-play teen-friendly package. The concept is similar to Improbable theatre's Lifegame: Drummond seeks a volunteer from the audience and, after a series of questions, improvises a play based on their fears, friendships and passions.

As he scrawls phrases over the white backdrop, taking suggestions from the audience and their texting friends, Drummond creates the illusion of happy chaos. This is his first show for the NTS, he quips, and he hasn't even written a script. But he has constructed the show with the same unobtrusive discipline as his opening mind-reading trick – just watch the efficiency of his technical team as they match his free-flowing imagination sound cue for sound cue.

That is why it seems like magic when, from one girl's insecurities and ambitions, he types out a feel-good wish-fulfilment fantasy before our eyes. And it is why it is so moving when he prints out the freshly written script and hands it to the delighted girl.

Until Saturday. Box office: 0141-552 4267. Then touring until 2 April.

© Mark Fisher 2010

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