Skip to main content

Room

Dundee Rep
Four stars

“Is this what it means to be free?” asks five year old Little Jack in Emma Donoghue's adaptation of her startling 2010 novel, brought to the stage by director Cora Bissett. The only life Jack has known previously is the claustrophobic confines of a wooden shed, where he lived with his doting Ma after she was kidnapped seven years before by a man known only as Old Nick. Here, Jack conjures up a world drawn from his fertile imagination. Inanimate objects become his playmates, and a sense of wonder and adventure prevails. When Ma and Jack finally manage to escape their captor, they find themselves in a new kind of prison.

An over-riding warmth emanates from every pore of this co-production between Theatre Royal Stratford East and Abbey Theatre, Dublin in association with the National Theatre of Scotland and Covent Garden Productions. There is a sense of empathy and care too with Donoghue's characters. This is clear from the relationship between Witney White's Ma and Little Jack, played here by Harrison Wilding, one of three child actors taking turns at the play's pivotal role. The unspoken complexities of Jack's responses to his plight are given voice by Fela Lufadeju's Big Jack.

 Played out on Lily Arnold's busy set and given depth by Andrzej Goulding's animated video projections, Donoghue and Bissett's construction is fleshed out further through songs written by Bissett and Kathryn Joseph, and performed by White and Lufadeju. The end result is a heart-rending depiction of a mother and child's survival of the unthinkable through the power of a love that finally allows Jack and Ma to come home.

The Herald, June 15th 2017

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…

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…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …