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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Authorised Kate Bane, theatre review

Published in The Guardian

Grid Iron at the Traverse, Edinburgh
Three stars

"I'M at home and I feel homesick," says the character of Kate Bane, explaining her unresolved anguish to the boyfriend who has come to meet her parents. Or rather, in Ella Hickson's new play for Grid Iron, it is one version of Kate Bane; whether or not she is the authorised version is hard to tell. Either way, she is a young woman trying to make sense of her past.

Bane has an incomplete record, however: disputed family anecdotes, hazy recollections and photographs that don't quite connect then with now. Playing a series of meta-theatrical games, Hickson teases us with the idea that memory is provisional. The stories we tell about ourselves are just that – stories. We not only write our history, but rewrite it as well. Every so often in Ben Harrison's production, the action stops and actor Jenny Hulse switches from Kate the protagonist to Kate the playwright, redrafting scenes that are not to her liking and testing out exchanges that might have been.

The Authorised Kate Bane couples the uncertainty of Six Characters in Search of an Author with the soul-baring family revelations of a minor Tennessee Williams play (minor because this particular family has suffered no trauma worse than an unhappy divorce). It is also an examination of how stories dominate our lives, affecting not only the way we understand the past, but how we project our future. If she is to be married, Kate must reconcile with her history and accept the possibility of a "happily ever after" ending.

There are times when the play drifts away from its central thesis, leaving some ideas dramatically unprocessed, but the clever concept holds it together, as does Hulse's impassioned central performance.
© Mark Fisher, 2012

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