A New International: A Night at the Theatre
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
NOT so much the billed night at the theatre as a night in the theatre bar, this low-key but very well-attended show was partly a live concert by the Glasgow-based baroque indie troupe A New International,
and partly an extremely early work-in-progress performance of a collaboration between the group and the Vanishing Point theatre company under the direction of Matthew Lenton. It had first been seen the week before at Glasgow’s Glad Café as part of Celtic Connections, and singer Biff Smith joked that darker material like The Sailors and the Whores had to be excised from the children’s matinee.
The live gig aspect was very much to the fore, with pauses here and there for spoken vignettes read by actors Pauline Goldsmith and Peter Kelly, and written by Lenton. While this latter element seemed very much like the
part which was being workshopped, the actors took to their roles as “drunk and stoned” fallen angels, part storytellers and part character actors, with a sense of appropriately soot-black Victorian humour.
Themusicwhichtheplanned play will eventually build around, however, appears to need no updating. With a full band including a small brass section surrounding him, the gravel-voiced and vividly theatrical Smith appeared born to play a starring role in Cabaret, although he noted that it’s Ron Moody from Oliver! who runs “in my DNA”.
He yelped his way through the ferociously jolly Give Me Funanddeliveredabeautifully expressive vocal performance on Let Us Not Speak of Sin. Had they been selling advance tickets for the completed show, they would doubtless have sold a few.