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Showing posts from January, 2012

Freya Mavor and Jess Brittain - Shedding Old Skins

It's been quite a year for Freya Mavor. This time twelve months ago,
the Edinburgh teenager had just made her professional acting debut as
part of the third generation of Skins, E4's iconic yoof-TV drama about
a bunch of mad-for-it youngsters coming of age in an orgy of sex, drugs
and taking things too far. With the sixth and possibly final series of
Skins currently airing, Mavor returns to her role as Mini McGuinness,
the gang's queen bee bitch, whose good looks and motor-mouthed
put-downs are a brittle front for the frightened and not entirely
unpleasant little girl within.

Since sashaying onto the small screen, Mavor's public profile has
rocketed. Aside from Skins, in which she resumes her relationship with
a slutty mum played in a wonderful piece of casting against type by
Clare Grogan, Mavor has become something of a Scots style icon. Not
only did she become the face of Pringle Scotland for the company's
spring and summer 2011 campaign, Mavor was bestowed with …

Silver Apples - Oscillating Wildly

Mono, Glasgow, February 26th 2012
When Simeon Coxe III took a 1940s vintage oscillator onstage with him to lively up the psych-rock band he fronted, sparks flew to the extent that half the band left, and, with only drummer Danny Taylor in tow, Silver Apples were born. With their name taken from a WB Yeats poem (science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury had somewhat appropriately already picked up the adjoining line for his 1953 short story collection, The Golden Apples of the Sun) , the two Silver Apples albums that appeared in 1968 and 1969 melded Simeon's primitive sci-fi zaps to Taylor's busy drum patterns, and set a template for Space Rock and the German Kosmische bands of the next decade.
If such groove-laden future sounds were alien to hippies high on the summer of love's false promises, it was nothing to what Pan Am airlines made of depictions of their hardware on the cover of the duo's second album, Contact. The subsequent law-suit grounded Silver Apples indefinit…

The Infamous Brothers Davenport

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
4 stars The audience are not only on their feet but are onstage inspecting the giant cabinet that dominates on entering this fiercely ambitious collaboration between Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison's Vox Motus company, playwright Peter Arnott and the Royal Lyceum. The conceit is a piece of Victorian hokum, in which the two Davenports of the title, Ira and Willie, conjure up spirits from within their cabinet under the half-lit scrutiny of a 'scientific spiritualist society'. Introduced by the grandiloquent Mr Fay under the watchful eye of the desperately seeking Lady Noyes-Woodhull, Willie, the younger of the two, is apparently possessed by his dead sister Katie as his spirit guide in a seance. When Willie goes off message, however, truth becomes far stranger than ghost stories. As the spirit cabinet opens up, this reimagining of the real-life Davenports story lays bare the roots of their act in a damaged, bare-floorboards chi…

Hamletmachine - Heiner Muller Manipulated

“My main interest when I write plays is to destroy things,” wrote German iconoclast Heiner Muller, as quoted in Theatremachine, Marc von Henning's English-language translation of Muller's most essential works. “For thirty years Hamlet for me was an obsession, so I wrote a short text, Hamletmachine, with which I tried to destroy Hamlet. German history was another obsession, and I tried to destroy this obsession, too, that whole complex. I think my strongest impulse is to reduce things down to their skeleton, to tear off their skin and their flesh. Then I'm finished with them.” With this in mind, no wonder the two productions of Muller's post-modern rewiring of Shakespeare seemed to Max Legoube of French puppet theatre company Compangnie Sans Soucis so wrong-headedly violent. Legoube's take on things, which opens this year's Manipulate visual theatre festival at the Traverse in Edinburgh, aims to redress the balance with a ravishing multi-media appr…

Arika 12 - Episode 1 of A New Festival of Experimental Film and Music

In December 2001, a brand new experimental music festival appeared in Glasgow. It was called Instal, and took place over one day at The Arches, bringing together various shades of the international avant-garde, from Japanese noise artist Koji Asano and junkshop record sampler Philip Jeck, to works by Scots composers David Fennessy and William Sweeney played by The Paragon Ensemble. Such events weren't unprecedented, with the equally eclectic Le Weekend festival in Stirling similarly ongoing. A regular left-field music infrastructure or scene in Scotland, however, was absent.

 A decade on, it's hard not to trip over a network of events great and small which claim to be in some way to be experimental or avant-garde. Over the years Instal itself grew to become a two-day, then three-day affair. Barry Esson, who originally instigated Instal with Tiernan Kelly, now of Film City, formed Arika Industries with his co-conspirator Bryony McIntyre as Arika. As well as Instal,…

Orla O'Loughlin - The Traverse Theatre's New Artistic Director

There's a sense of wonder about Orla O'Loughlin when she talks. As the newly appointed artistic director of Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre winds her way deep into the bowels of Scotland's new writing theatre in search of a dressing room, it's as if she's applying the same geographical unfamiliarity to her brand new role in arguably the best theatre job in town. Everything, it seems, is an adventure. As well it might be. Unlike most of her predecessors, O'Loughlin has no track record working in Scotland's theatre scene, and, since her appointment in August 2011, has kept out of public view as she surveys the lay of the land before her.

 “It did feel like I was being kept under wraps,” she says almost five months on after picking up the mantle left behind by the departure of Dominic Hill after four years to take over the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, “and I was allowed to walk freely in the streets, which was great.” Since then, while O'Lou…

Moving in Houses

Tramway, Glasgow
3 stars
 Four wooden structures occupy each corner of Tramway 5’s bijou space. Each box-like structure forms the skeletal frame of some half-built des-res that might change every day on a gap-site turned building-site and soon-come housing estate. While an installation by day, by night each one finds people curled up in the dark, living together or alone in a room of their own while the traffic roars and the birds sing outside.

 This is the landscape mapped out in Theatre Arts Group’s devised exploration of a place that’s sometimes called home, a life in the day of a community isolated from each other both physically and existentially. As an audience of twenty navigate their way around, the seven performers drag their respective homes behind them, connecting them up as they greet the day, only occasionally engaging with each other.

 A great deal of thought has clearly gone into Rachel Clive and Kirsty Stansfield’s production, which attempts the sort of be…

Moving in Houses - Space Is The Place

How other people live is fascinating, and there are few better insights
into what makes them tick than getting a look inside their homes. Where
some might live in a four-walled fortress, others might prefer an
open-plan outlook on the big bad world outside. Such notions of
personal space formed one of the starting points for Moving in Houses,
a new cross-artform piece of work devised and created by the
experimentally inclined Theatre Arts Group, which plays for three
nights in Tramway this week alongside an installation. Using sound,
light, movement and above all else a sculptural form of architecture,
Moving in Houses aims to explore the very notion of how we both define
and interact with the immediate space around us.

“We're working with four structures,” Theatre Arts Group
writer/director Rachel Clive explains, “and the performers are relating
to each of these structures, which represent different types of
housing. One represents a terraced house, another a semi-de…

The Infamous Brothers Davenport - Vox Motus Raise The Dead

There's a strange kind of magic happening at the Royal Lyceum Theatre
in Edinburgh. While not directly related to The Infamous Brothers
Davenport, the biggest show to date from Jamie Harrison and Candice
Edmunds' visually inventive Vox Motus company, the two incidents of
unintentional jiggery-pokery are by-products worthy of Derren Brown.

First of all, an old-school dictaphone resolutely refuses to record an
interview with Harrison and Edmunds. Even when when fresh batteries are
hastily located, the admittedly ancient micro-cassettes fail to whirr
into action. The moment the interview, recorded ad hoc on a mobile
phone, is over, the dictaphone starts working again, original batteries
and all. This is apparently the second such incident to happen over the
previous week as the company pull together a technically audacious
concoction of old-time Victorian hokum and sibling rivalry scripted by
Peter Arnott.

Earlier at rehearsals, something infinitely less spooky but ju…

Martin McCardie - The Tinsel Town Writer Visits Sanna Bay

When Martin McCardie visited Sanna Bay in Ardnamurchan, sex, drugs and
rock roll weren't on the agenda. That unholy trinity were the subject
matters requested after McCardie asked a young group of film makers
what they wanted their work to be about. McCardie's experience of the
most westerly point in mainland Britain made what became The Corkscrew
Road something very different for Shooters, the community-based
film-making wing of Spirit Aid, the humanitarian charity set up by
actor/director David Hayman a decade ago.

McCardie had come on board to advise on the nuts and bolts of
film-making alongside Raindog director Stuart Davids, and what Shooters
got instead was a poetic evocation of a lost childhood. With a
soundtrack currently being scored by Edwyn Collins and former Superstar
frontman Joe McAlinden (an old school-friend of the McCardies), and
chip-off-the-old-block Davie Hayman Junior directing, The Corkscrew
Road is the first of three McCardie-scripted colla…

Theatre in 2012 - Looking Forward To A New Season

If the future of theatre in the cash-strapped times we’re living
through is to find imaginative ways of working that won’t bust the
bank, such an attitude needn’t stifle ambition. This should be evident
in 2012 care of the two most anticipated home-grown Shakespeare
productions for some time.

As announced exclusively on these pages several weeks ago, Dominic
Hill’s first season at the Citizens Theatre looks set to raise the bar
high. As well as main-stage productions of Harold Pinter’s mid-period
knee-trembler, Betrayal and a double bill of Beckett miniatures, Hill
lets rip with a production of King Lear. The sheer scale of
Shakespeare’s epic is a gift to Hill, whose facility with big stages is
presumably what got him the gig. Throw in the casting of David Hayman
in the title role, and you have a fully-fledged event.

Hayman, of course, was the mercurial break-out star the 1970s golden
era Citz, courting controversy as a career-defining Hamlet and Lady
Macbeth before emba…

Concert in the Gardens 2011/12

Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
4 stars
There was a sense of past meeting present at Edinburgh’s 2011/12
Concert in the Gardens. If local band competition winners Mike Norris
and the Moon play around with the sort of polite folksy stylings that
are oddly de rigeur just now, the abrasive urgency and sparring
male/female vocals of Sons and Daughters could easily be mistaken for
early 1980s post-punk provocateurs The Au Pairs. Bombay Bicycle Club
vocalist Jack Steadman, meanwhile, has the pitch of the late New York
ambient classicist Arthur Russell if he’d formed an indie band.

It’s left to Primal Scream to really kick-start proceedings, with
scarlet-shirted frontman Bobby Gillespie launching into the southern
soul of Movin’ On Up, the opening track of Primal Scream’s era-defining
1991 album, Screamadelica, with the mad-eyed self-possession of a
Glasgow street brawler by way of a punk/rave John The Baptist. While
they don’t play the full album as advertised, the selected hi…