On life, love and faith

Sunday Herald Life - - MIND & BODY - Re­viewed by Mark Brown

OUR FA­THERS Seen at Tra­verse Theatre, Ed­in­burgh Tour­ing un­til Novem­ber 18 THE MAIDS Dundee Rep Un­til Novem­ber 4

‘WRIT­TEN and per­formed by Rob Drum­mond and Nicholas Bone”, reads the poster for Our Fa­thers, the new co-pro­duc­tion be­tween the Tra­verse Theatre and Ed­in­burgh-based tour­ing com­pany Mag­netic North. So the piece takes its place in a tra­di­tion of “de­vised” theatre that has be­come prom­i­nent (if not pre­dom­i­nant) in Scot­land.

In­deed, one could be for­given for won­der­ing if play­wright­ing is be­com­ing a dy­ing art in our coun­try. Too of­ten the de­vised strand in Scot­tish theatre seems mod­est in am­bi­tion.

Our Fa­thers is an abun­dant case in point. The piece is in­spired by Fa­ther And Son, the early-20th cen­tury book by the English writer (and Protes­tant fun­da­men­tal­ist) Ed­mund Gosse. Nicholas Bone (artis­tic di­rec­tor of Mag­netic North) was given the mem­oir by his fa­ther, for­merly the Angli­can Bishop of Read­ing. He, in turn, en­cour­aged Drum­mond (whose fa­ther is a re­tired Kirk min­is­ter) to read Gosse’s opus.

The re­sult­ing show is a cob­bled to­gether se­ries of more or less in­ter­est­ing re­flec­tions on re­li­gion and the na­ture of the re­la­tions be­tween Bone and Drum­mond and their fa­thers, in­ter­cut with some­what drama­tised sec­tions from Gosse’s book. Struc­turally, the piece barely hangs to­gether: a fact aided not at all by the ir­ri­tat­ing, de­lib­er­ately fake con­flict be­tween the two per­form­ers about who plays which char­ac­ter and the or­der in which scenes are pre­sented.

A lovely score by Scott Twyn­holm and charm­ing de­sign by Karen Tennent (beau­ti­fully lit by Si­mon Wilkin­son) lend the show an aes­thetic qual­ity lack­ing in an other­wise un­cer­tain, halt­ing pro­duc­tion.

There is a sim­i­lar lack of con­vic­tion in Dundee Rep’s dis­ap­point­ingly blood­less stag­ing of Jean Genet’s mod­ernist clas­sic The Maids. Di­rec­tor Eve Jamieson’s pro­duc­tion is set in the of a Paris apart­ment. The room is flanked, in point­lessly ob­vi­ous metaphor, by two glass cab­i­nets in which the house­maids (and sis­ters) Claire (Irene Macdougall) and Ann Louise Ross (Solange) sit, il­lu­mi­nated in red when in­ac­tive, and green when they spring to life.

It is not un­gal­lant of me, I hope, to point out Macdougall and Ross are some­what be­yond the ages of their char­ac­ters (who, Genet stip­u­lated, are in their early to mid-30s). This gen­er­a­tional shift is in­trigu­ing and could have worked, were both ac­tors not so ob­serv­ably un­com­fort­able with the sado­masochism of the sis­ters’ fan­tasy rit­ual re­gard­ing their de­spised mis­tress.

When the mis­tress (Emily Win­ter) ar­rives (in the midst of her re­cently ar­rested lover’s cri­sis), she soon crosses the line be­tween the char­ac­ter’s self­drama­tis­ing and sim­ple over­act­ing. To the ab­sence of sex­ual ten­sion is added a lack of sub­tlety in the class ha­treds and per­sonal re­sent­ments among the women.

Self-con­scious and quite in­sipid, this pro­duc­tion com­pares badly with Ste­wart Laing’s ex­cit­ing, if un­even, all-male ver­sion of the play at Glas­gow’s Cit­i­zens Theatre in 2013. For tour dates for Our Fa­thers, visit mag­net­ic­north.org.uk

Rob Drum­mond and Nicholas Bone in Our Fa­thers PHOTO by Mi­haela Bodlovic

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.