Monday, 5 March 2012

ANA


Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
4 stars
Six scarlet-clad women line up in coffin-size boxes like life-size 
historical dolls being flogged off at some old-time sideshow. As a 
shabby ringmaster parades them before the audience, he opens the door 
on a complex, criss-crossing trawl through epochal moments of times 
past, as umpteen versions of the same woman split in two at moments of 
crisis. The result, in this unique Scots/Quebecois collaboration 
between the Edinburgh-based Stellar Quines company and Montreal's Imago 
Theatre, is a fascinatingly beguiling magical-realist epic that 
stretches an extended umbilical cord through history.

Joan of Arc, Medea, St Therese, the French revolution, Charles Darwin, 
Jack the Ripper and Sigmund Freud are all in Clare Duffy and Pierre 
Yves Lemieux's bi-lingual script, mixed and matched into life in Serge 
Denoncourt's audacious and vivacious production. Matters of life, 
death, art, science and religion are similarly entwined in a whirlwind 
of time-lagging inter-connectivity that hinges on the basic right of 
liberty through choice. If one Ana's creative potential is strangled at 
birth, another flourishes materially, if not emotionally. For a while, 
anyway.

With a mixed cast of Scots and Quebecois actors split evenly across the 
two nations, there may be different stylistic sensibilities at play, 
but, from Frances Thorburn's infant squeals to Catherine Begin's brutal 
death, there's a prevailing intensity that rips into what exactly the 
rights of Woman are. In some respects, all this is getting back to some 
of the more intellectually and theatrically expansive examples of 
Scottish drama that came out of the 1980s, before naturalism took hold 
in some quarters. If we've come full circle and are tapping into a 
sense of post-modern internationalism as ANA suggests, this is a 
thrilling start.

The Herald, March 5th 2012

ends

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