Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
“If you could see inside my head you'd be terrified,” says a character in Christine Lindsay's relentless fifty-five minute dramatic collage of life behind bars for a group of female prisoners. As words and experiences explode into view in a litany of cut-up first-person monologues, that's exactly what Muriel Romanes' dynamic production for Stellar Quines feels like.
With six actresses dressed in regulation track suit bottoms and t-shirts, each one plays a multitude of inmates and officers, with the names of each character flashed onto a network of TV monitors as they either talk out front, hang back in the shadows or else dangle from a climbing frame at the back of the stage. To point up the fact that many of these women's crimes are ones of circumstance as much as anything else, there are similarly crafted dispatches from the past, as suffragettes and women tried as witches recount their own experiences of persecution, incarceration and, in some cases, execution.
There's an urgent musical pulse to Romanes' production, which is driven as much by original songs by Hilary Brooks and Patricia Panther as by Lindsay's text, some of which borders on rap. It's an audacious set of stylings that gives voice to those occupying a hidden world that is here laid bare even more by Jade Currie's video design and Keith McIntyre's multi-faceted set design. At the play's heart, however, are a set of gutsy performances from one of the strongest acting ensembles you're likely to see of either gender, with Rebecca Elise, Meg Fraser, Molly Innes, Anne Kidd, Scarlett Mack and Alexandra Mathie giving their all in a fearless piece of work.
The Herald, March 24th 2014