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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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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Theatre review: The Tin Forest

Published in the Guardian
South Rotunda, Glasgow
Four stars

DID Graham McLaren conceive his adaptation of The Tin Forest on a rainy day? That would have been in keeping with the gloomy interiors that characterise his gorgeously detailed promenade performance. As with A Christmas Carol, his last National Theatre of Scotland collaboration with puppeteer Gavin Glover, The Tin Forest is bleak, barren and wintry.
On a day when the temperature has soared to 27C and the lithe athletes of the Commonwealth Games are sprinting by outside, it is all the more of a leap to process the director's rich and desolate blend of art installation, puppet show, storytelling and folk gig. Based on the children's book by Helen Ward and Wayne Anderson, The Tin Forest is a tale of post-industrial regeneration in which an old man brings new life to an arid environment of iron railings, lampposts and tin cans.
Like the similarly inspired Huff by Shona Reppe and Andy Manley, you experience the show in a small party, moving from room to spooky room to piece together the story. It begins in a David Lynch-like hotel corridor where a bank of old-fashioned telephones beckon you to listen. It's an alienating introduction to a lonely world, made only marginally more welcoming in the subsequent rooms: a hut stuffed with mechanical antiques, a workshop where a glassy-eyed puppet tries to get a metal bird to fly and a museum where Angela Darcy plays a curious cross between a German showgirl and a gallery attendant.
It feels as if there's a scene missing after we see the first signs of natural life in a garden shed, but there's a striking finale in the main hall, where a vast image of St Kilda is projected around the curving rotunda wall and four musicians play jigs, reels and Glasgow folk favourites – a sign that life has bloomed once more out of this barren wasteland.
© Mark Fisher 2014 
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