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Bloody Trams

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars
They may not have been tram related, but the roadworks blocking the bus 
stop on Lothian Road immediately following this fifty-minute 'rapid 
response' to the seven-year carry-on that has been the Edinburgh Trams 
project spoke volumes about the vagaries of civic planners who 
seemingly give  little thought to the everyday consequences of their 
decisions. Put together by director Joe Douglas via a series of 
interviews with those in Edinburgh affected one way or another by the 
major city centre upheavals caused by the tram-works, what is 
effectively an extended dramatised vox pop is performed by actors 
Jonathan Holt and Nicola Roy, with musical accompaniment by composer 
and singer David Paul Jones on piano.

In an initially comic but increasingly poignant series of exchanges 
related by the actors via recordings of the interviews relayed through 
mobile phone ear-pieces, we hear from the small business people whose 
livelihoods were all but destroyed, the cabbies whose routes were 
disrupted on a daily basis, and the bureaucrats putting the inevitable 
positive spin on things. Most tellingly, there are those who wonder why 
the old trams were scrapped in 1950s in the name of progress.

What's revealed is both a near operatic real life soap opera and a 
piece of history which  has touched a collective nerve still raw from 
the experience. Bloody Trams has also tapped into the increasingly 
vital question of how public officials can be held to account by the 
constituents they are there to serve. With this in mind, if the 
Traverse wants to really get its hands dirty with civic muck, the 
similarly long-running shambles of the Caltongate development should be 
tackled onstage post-haste.

The Herald, March 21st 2014

ends

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