Skip to main content

Fever Dream: Southside

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

'People Make Glasgow World Class' declaims the bus shelter hoarding just across the bridge that leads to the Gorbals-based Citizens Theatre. Beyond the spin, such a statement could easily form part of Douglas Maxwell's new play. Set beneath a neon-lit reconstruction of artist Stephen O'Neil's real life installation, it becomes a fantastical love letter, not just to the Govanhill neighbourhood it is set in, but to the city itself.

For Peter and Demi, the young couple at the play's centre, it is a city full of monsters, where family life is disrupted by a cacophony of police helicopters and howling dogs who add to the din of their crying baby. With sleeplessness at a premium, Peter's terminal adolescence rubs up uncomfortably against the likes of Dharmesh Patel's property developer Raj, who takes Umar Malik's disaffected schoolboy Kuldev under his wing and is the epitome of every big-talking wide-boy who ever tried to rip the heart from any city going cheap. Martin Donaghy's deluded evangelist Joe has his own demons to deal with, while a new breed of 'creatives' is represented by a pink-wigged performance artist mercilessly portrayed by Charlene Boyd.

Set against the backdrop of a missing teenage girl and the protests against the closure of Govanhill Baths, the first half of Dominic Hill's production is a woozy collage of urban nightmares that climaxes with a very Game of Thrones style revelation. The second focuses on a kind of collective recovery, with Martin McCormick's Peter and Kirsty Stuart's Demi finally seeming to beat the bad guys.

With any over-riding ennui undercut by some very Maxwellian one-liners, this is an extravagant and audacious ramble through a city's fractured psyche in all its imagined excess. Michael John McCarthy's live score moves from Joy Division style miserableism to sludge metal and beyond towards some kind of redemption. As Kuldev becomes radicalised, the play's final moment may be pure Spartacus, but it is also a call to arms that goes beyond the empty playground rhetoric of party politics to a much bigger and more meaningful form of something resembling community.

The Herald, April 27th 2015

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…