Published in the Guardian
BINARY thinking is at the heart of this fascinating, if ultimately frustrating new play. It is the result of a two-way collaboration between Scotland's Stellar Quines and Canada's Imago Theatre; it has two playwrights in Clare Duffy and Pierre Yves Lemieux; and it is written in two languages, English and French.
This duality extends into the play itself. At every moment of crisis, the eponymous Ana finds herself splitting. In the theatrical equivalent of quantum mechanics, she can be two people at the same time. Born to the goddess of the house of stars, she becomes queen of the underworld, while her sister, the first of many opposites, takes charge of fertility. After that, she can be found at any point in history, whether in the form of a prostitute in revolutionary France, the daughter of Charles Darwin or a hippy poet at a Vancouver rock festival.
In its imaginative leaps, it has the flavour of Ibsen's Peer Gynt; in its straddling of time and space, it reminds you of the epic plays of Robert Lepage. For the most part, it's dizzily entertaining, performed by a six-strong team of Anas emerging in scarlet costumes from a set of movable kiosks, with the genial Alain Goulem bringing things down to earth as a bilingual ring master.
Fluidly directed by Serge Denoncourt, it is full of vivid scenes on the theme of mother-daughter bonds, birth and rebirth, mirror images, compromise and survival. Up until two-thirds of the way through, it is as gripping as it is intriguing. The longer it goes on, however, the less meaningful it gets; what starts off as an extraordinary piece of work ends up unsatisfyingly vague about its purpose.
© Mark Fisher, 2012 (Pic: Tristan Brand)
More coverage at theatreSCOTLAND.com
Sign up for theatreSCOTLAND updates
Sign up for theatreSCOTLAND discussion