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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 09, 2011

Wild Life, theatre review

Published in the Guardian

Wild Life
Cumbernauld Theatre

Three stars
We're in the territory of Dennis Kelly's Orphans, a chic middle-class home, kitted out with hi-fi and Wi-Fi, with a sense that behind the venetian blinds is a lawless landscape of baying dogs, delinquent teenagers and rioting mobs. This is not a place professional couple Daisy and Dave care to visit after dark. They prefer to avoid direct engagement with real life by turning to home entertainment, pizza deliveries and their own brand of free association.

That's where Pamela Carter's two-hander for Magnetic North gets interesting. Idly speculating that the ideal child would be one you could feel sorry for, the couple dream into life a feral boy, Victor, and, with a leap of theatrical logic, let him loose on the internet. He is in the mould of the 19th-century wolf-boy of Aveyron and the more recent Oxana Malaya, a Ukrainian girl brought up by a pack of dogs; a creature without language or social graces, no awareness of shameful or illegal behaviour.

He is everything Daisy and Dave are not. Although he is of their own invention, his presence on their laptop gnaws away at their sense of consumerist security, his wildness horrifying them while stirring some repressed animal spirit. The more they fill in his back-story, the less he seems to be a freak of a nature. The more he seems like a product of society, the more they question their Thatcherite taste for separation.

The intriguing premise, however, is not enough to sustain the 80-minute running time. Self-satisfied suburbanites are too easy a political target and, in any case, they can never really be threatened by the virtual Victor. But director Nicholas Bone draws out two superb performances from Lesley Hart and David Ireland, who brilliantly capture the everyday rhythms of Carter's conversational interplay before the dramatic engine runs out of steam.

© Mark Fisher 2011
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