Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Only Fun in Town? - Going Live in Edinburgh's Grassroots Music Scenes

Whenever people say there's nothing musically going on in Edinburgh
outside of August I find myself bristling, because I know it's not true. Ten
years ago when it seemed like there were only a handful of bands, while assorted
venues and club nights that existed then have been and gone for a variety of
reasons, including fire, mismanagement and demolition, I could maybe understand
such a complaint. Right now, however, live music and a grass-roots arts scene in
Edinburgh is thriving. This despite what feels at times like every effort from
City of Edinburgh Council and it's archaic laws on noise restriction to police
or else stop live music completely.

The fact is, there is plenty of live
music – and I include a club culture here that goes beyond boys with guitars -
that takes place pretty much every night at small venues such as Sneaky Pete's,
Electric Circus, Henry's Cellar Bar, the Wee Red Bar at Edinburgh College of
Art, Citrus, the Caves, the Bongo Club, the Forest, Cabaret Voltaire, the Mash
House, Studio 24, Bannerman's, the Liquid Rooms, the Banshee Labyrinth, the
Voodoo Rooms and La Belle Angele.

If you want to move a step up to something
more formal, there is the Queen's Hall,  which has seen many artists who started
out playing Henry's or Sneaky Pete's move into a bigger arena. The Usher Hall
hosted the 1972 Eurovision Song Contest, and hosts large-scale pop/rock, jazz,
folk and classical music concerts. Outwith the city centre there is the Corn
Exchange, although no-one seems to like it overly much.

Beyond that, there
are numerous one-offs at assorted church halls, working men's clubs such as
Leith Dockers Club and a lively pub circuit, with events taking place in the
back rooms of the Safari Lounge and many others. Sandy Bell's and the Royal Oak
host nightly folk sessions as they have done since the Scottish folk revival of
the 1960s, while upstairs in the Outhouse a fortnightly jazz night called
Playtime takes place. 

One church hall, the Central Hall on Lothian Road,
looks set to be the venue for a night presented by Neu! Reekie!, one of the many
nights which mix up spoken-word with live music. The Neu! Reekie! night on June
9th will feature Young Fathers, Andy Weatherall and Fini Tribe as well as
spoken-word artists.

There is the Jazz Bar, which puts on three gigs a night
364 days a year, and there are a host of one-offs in people's flats or one of
the equally thriving network of grass-roots art spaces that exists such as
Rhubaba and the Embassy. There have been gigs at Summerhall pretty much since it
opened. There are micro festivals such as LeithLate, and now in August itself
even Edinburgh International Festival has embraced pop, hosting shows by the
Sparks/Franz Ferdinand collaboration, FFS, Sufjan Stevens and Oneohtrix Point
Never.

At the time of writing I've just come home from Moonhop, a monthly
night at Henry's Cellar Bar run by the band, FOUND, who at various points have
released records on the Fence and Creeping Bent labels as well as their own
Surface Pressure imprint, and whose background at Gray's School of Art in
Aberdeen has seen them dabble with conceptual type shenanigans such as running
club nights. Social sculpture, as they probably wouldn't call it. Tonight
featured River of Slime, which is Kev Sim from FOUND doing sci-fi analog synth
stuff, while the night was headlined by The Sexual Objects playing their
instrumental Cream Split Up album, which has been played to death by BBC 6Music,
in full.

This is significant in that The Sexual Objects front-man Davy
Henderson has roots going right back to Fire Engines, the Edinburgh band who
were key players around the city's post-punk scene from 1979 to 1981, and who
would go on to be name-checked by Franz Ferdinand as a major influence. Fire
Engines were part of a scene based around Fast Product records, the record label
run by Bob Last and Hilary Morrison from a flat in Keir Street next to ECA. Fast
put out the first records by the Gang of Four and the Human League, was a huge
influence on Factory Records – and it's interesting to note the differences
between Edinburgh and Manchester in terms of how each city's musical history has
been treated - and arguably changed the pop landscape forever, as is explained
in Grant McPhee's forthcoming documentary film, The Sound of Young
Scotland.

The sole album released by Fire Engines' Edinburgh contemporaries
Josef K, also featured in the Sound of Young Scotland, was tellingly called The
Only Fun in Town. This was undoubtedly a nod to a time in the pre-punk late
1970s when there really wasn't any kind of live music scene in Edinburgh after
many of the city's clubs and dance halls were either demolished or turned into
bingo halls.

Three and a half decades on, Moonhop was packed, and was one of
several nights I could have gone to tonight, including the first edition of the
ironically named Summerhall-based Nothing Ever Happens Here, featuring Broken
Records and others. Last Friday I had even more choices. As well as The Unthanks
at the Queen's Hall, I could have gone to see the Alabama 3 at Studio 24, retro
garage rock veterans The Thanes at the club-house of Leith Cricket Club or a
Song By Toad night at Henry's. On Sunday night I went to a bill of four
Edinburgh bands at Krafty Brew, a micro brewery set in an industrial estate off
Leith Walk, while this weekend there is live music taking place on Saturday
afternoon at the Elvis Shakespeare record and book shop.

Some people seem to
think there is no such thing as a scene in Edinburgh, and, in a way, they're
right, because rather than there just being one, there are many. Outwith the
main promoters such as Regular Music, there are regular nights put on by the
Song, By Toad label in Henry's or else at the warehouse space that forms Toad HQ
in Leith. The Gentle Invasion, run by Bart of the band Eagleowl, puts on
extravaganzas of left-field songwriters in Pilrig Church Hall and other places
as did the Tracer Trails organisation before them. Over almost a decade, Limbo
has provided monthly bills of local artists at the Voodoo Rooms.

Braw Gigs
provide a platform for the city's thriving experimental scene, following in the
footsteps of the Giant Tank label, whose 'house band', Edinburgh duo Usurper,
were recently championed by Scottish Symphony Orchestra director Ilan Volkov,
who programmed them as part of his Tectonics festival in Glasgow and Reykjavik.
Operating out of the University of Edinburgh, Martin Parker's Dialogues
initiative has promoted experimental music at the School of Music based in
Alison House and elsewhere, often in association with New Media Scotland at the
Informatics Centre. EdImpro have continued this relationship, with events at the
Talbot Rice Gallery and the Reid Concert Hall.

There has been the Pleasance
sessions at Edinburgh University featuring the likes of the Phantom Band and
Honeyblood, and a series of shows in the Traverse Theatre bar featuring the
likes of Alasdair Roberts by the Soundhouse project, whose house concerts fell
foul of the sort of noise complaints which are in part at the root of any damage
currently being caused to live music in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Folk Club puts
on regular shows at the Pleasance, Edinburgh Blues Club hosts nights at the
Voodoo Rooms, while an underground thrash metal scene operates unmolested in the
once folksy environs of Bannermans. The Wee Dub Festival now promotes reggae
nights across he city on a regular basis, and there is a thriving open mic scene
in numeropus bars around town. For a decade Olaf Furniss' Born To Be Wide and
Wide Days events have brought together local musicians and bands for a series of
music industry seminars, showcases and social events.

As a journalist I'm
privileged to be able to move across these worlds, dipping a dilettantish toe in
each as I'm wont to do, witnessing a bigger picture in a way which maybe those
steeped in a particular niche or scene perhaps aren't interested in doing simply
because they're too busy doing their own thing. But in terms of the multifarious
activities described above, Edinburgh's music scene is in no need of
revitalising, regeneration or reincarnation in any way, and anyone who thinks
otherwise probably needs to get out more. And, you know, the more the
merrier.

Edinburgh has always been a Jekyll and Hyde city, in which
establishment-based institutions project a fa├žade of respectability while the
really interesting things happen in the shadows beyond. This is the case in the
numerous niche live music micro scenes that co-exist in Edinburgh as much as
with everything else that goes on here, and that's fine.

In terms of civic
will, however, the story is very different. Over the last decade, numerous
venues have been flattened or bulldozed away as the City has increasingly seemed
to favour property developers over grass-roots arts and culture on its own
doorstep. The result of this is that few art students arriving in Edinburgh are
aware that before the student flats, boutique hotel and the Sainsbury's Local
next to their alma mater were built, crucial venues such as the Tap O'Laurieston
and the Cas Rock hosted the like of the Planet Pop festival and provided crucial
focal points for bands and artists  by promoting gigs all year round.

Then
there is the now notorious 'inaudibility clause', which has seen pubs and other
small venues close down their live music nights at the behest of what has more
often than not been a sole complainant. While city centre living is at a premium
in Edinburgh, as the current CEC laws stand, the notion of what does or doesn't
warrant a noise nuisance is at best subjectively vague and lacks
specificity.

The most striking example of botched civic will comes in the
form of the Picture House, a much needed 1500 capacity city centre venue with a
long history as a venue dating back to the 1970s after its original incarnation
as a cinema. Two years ago the Picture House was purchased by Watford based bar
chain, JD Wetherspoon, with a view to converting the building into a 'superpub'.
In its last incarnation, the Picture House was owned by HMV, who in 2010 had
acquired the whole of entertainment venue operators the MAMA group, who had
bought the Picture House in 2008. While the building has currently lain empty
since late 2013, given that JD Wetherspoon's raison d'etre is one of music-free
bars, the chances of them retaining the Picture House as a music venue are
non-existent.

Objections were raised to this in the form of a 13,000
signature petition, although a CEC report recommended to councillors that JD
Wetherspoon should be granted a change of use for the building, despite the
report being riddled with inaccuracies including the suggestion that the venue's
prime function was as a nightclub. This hadn't been the case since an inglorious
period in the 1980s and 1990s, when closing time on Lothian Road outside what
was then known as the Amphitheatre and later Century 2000 and Revolution was
invariably accompanied by several police vans.

This raises the question of a
lack of civic knowledge concerning Edinburgh's rich musical history. It is a
lack of knowledge shared with s others who really do think nothing ever happens
here. What is required to counter that perception  is an extensive archiving
project, which puts Edinburgh's bulldozed musical legacy back into the public
domain where it can potentially inspire others as well as give CEC officers a
primer in pop history.

What is lacking most of all at the moment from CEC is
any kind of vision. Instead of planning grand schemes regarding the bogus
concept of cultural quarters and suchlike, the powers that be need to stop
listening to property developers and breweries and start listening to their
constituents and the artists and musicians contained within that
constituency.

At the moment, CEC is kow-towing to notions of gentrification,
which is the by-product of urban regeneration in which lip service is paid to
notions of art and culture without any real understanding of it.

Such
botched attempts at social engineering aren't exclusive to Edinburgh. In London,
what would now be described as a song-writing 'hub', Tin Pan Alley on Denmark
Street, is being razed in the name of development. In Liverpool, the site of
super-club Cream is being demolished to build flats. And in New York, CBGBs, the
shabby home of American punk, was forced to close because its management could
no longer afford to pay the rent in the once derelict but now gentrified East
Village district of Manhattan.

What is needed in Edinburgh is a vision that
both enables artists, musicians and promoters to put on live music in the
multitude of spaces mentioned here in a way that allows them to co-exist happily
with their neighbours. That means looking at licenses in terms of the
inaudibility clause, which, while again not unique to Edinburgh, affects it more
due to a highly residential city centre.

Existing spaces also need
protecting, so rather than build new properties close to venues or else bulldoze
the venues away, property developers, breweries and supermarket chains should
have to take into account the cultural provision that already exists and which
they are effectively inveigling upon. This means live music having a voice in
planning decisions that may threaten historically significant live music
venues.

Promoters, musicians and every other artist in Edinburgh are already
in full possession of the sort of vision that is required . There are even
signs, through the Live Music Matters and Desire Lines initiatives, that at last
there is some kind of will from City of Edinburgh Council to help facilitate any
necessary changes to current legislation. Whether that amounts to anything in
real terms remains to be seen, but without any vision of their own, CEC run the
risk of not being able to recognise any of the wonderful live music events that
go on in this city, some of which have already changed the world.


Written quickly in March 2015, this was originally intended as a couple of paragraphs in response to an approach by Chris McCall, who was writing an article on live music in Edinburgh for Vice magazine, and asked me to expand on a post I made on the Keep Music Live Edinburgh Facebook page to be used as quotes in his piece. As yet the article hasn't appeared, and as my couple of paragaraphs had grown considerably it was published on the webpage of the University of Edinburgh's Live Music Exchange at the behest of Adam Behr. Live Music Exchange is an initiative made up of assorted academics researching live music.

ends

Lee Miller and Picasso

Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh
23 May − 6 September 2015

When Lee Miller met Pablo Picasso in 1937, it was a meeting of minds that lasted more than three decades up until Picasso's death in 1973. Somewhere inbetween the pair became mutual muses, with Miller photographing Picasso more than a thousand times, while Miller was painted by Picasso numerous times.

The bond between these two major artists is made clear in Lee Miller and Picasso, a major new exhibition in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery's Robert Mapplethorpe Gallery, and which forms part of the SNPG's 2015 Season of Photography. More than 100 images and objects selected from the Lee Miller Archive will highlight Miller and Picasso's friendship during turbulent times, and will include the wedding photograph of Miller and English surrealist Roland Penrose.

Miller and Picasso's legacy is still very much with us,” explains the show's curator Annie Lyden, “and their enduring friendship shows what it was like to be around at that time in history through these very intimate photographs. There are lots of images taken of Picasso and his friends and colleagues, but very few of Miller and him together.”

The two stand-out of these for Lyden show off how Miller and Picasso's friendship was sustained despite long periods apart.

One is from 1944,” Lyden says, “when Lee was working with the armed forces during the liberation of Paris, and realises she's just round the corner from Picasso's studio so she goes and sees him. There's a very tender look between them, and you can see the joy and relief of them finding one another again. The second is from 1970, and there's this look that's shared, and after everything they've been through, you can see the passing of time.

The List, May 2015

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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Into That Darkness

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

“What interests me is not what uniform a man has on,” says Nazi death camp commandant Franz Stangl at one point in Robert David Macdonald's piercing adaptation of Gitta Sereny's forensic journalistic dissection of Stangl. “It is what is inside the man.” The fact that his interrogator is Sereny herself, attempting to get to the root of how a lonely zither-playing boy can grow up to oversee one of the largest mass murders in history is a telling indictment, both of his own lack of self-awareness and his long buried desire to offload his previously unacknowledged guilt.

Behind plate glass in an austere grey prison office, Sereny peels back layer after layer of Stangl's psychological skin. Initially buttoned up in a tight-fitting suit, by the end of the play he's down to his shirt-sleeves. Where Cliff Burnett's Stangl appears wraith-like and haunted, he remains quietly cocksure as he wearily confronts his own crimes. In his presence, Blythe Duff as Gitta is steely as she listens to his matter of fact litanies of overseeing Treblinka's 'cargo' to the gas chamber while sporting a newly tailored white riding outfit.

With the pair flanked by Stangl's wife and other bystanders played by Molly Innes and Ali Craig, each scene of Gareth Nicholls' intense, slow-burning production is punctuated by an extended blackout and low rumbles of sound, as if the tape has run out, leaving gaps to ponder the magnitude of Stangl's actions. All of which makes for a deeply discomforting experience, made even more so by the reflections of the audience cast onto the glass by Stuart Jenkins' wilfully harsh lighting in a thrillingly mesmeric meditation on human cruelty.
 
The Herald, May 22nd 2015

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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Mark Thomson - On Leaving the Royal Lyceum Theatre on the Eve of its 50th Season

When the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh announced the resignation of its artistic director Mark Thomson last week after twelve years at the helm, there were some who thought Thomson's decision was in response to Scotland's arts funding quango Creative Scotland's potentially damaging seventeen per cent cut in the theatre's regular funding. Here, after all, was one of the country's leading rep companies who, as this season's productions of Brian Friel's Faith Healer, Tony Cownie's new take on Goldoni's The Venetian Twins and Thomson's own boisterous production of Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle have proved, is at the top of its game.

This was confirmed by the news that the Royal Lyceum has been nominated for a record breaking seventeen awards at this year's Critics Awards For Theatre in Scotland. The announcement too of the theatre's fiftieth anniversary season as a producing company has also set the country's theatre scene aflutter, with Thomson's opening production of Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot starring a dream team of Brian Cox, Bill Paterson and John Bett alone worth signing up for.

The Lyceum's 2015/16 season also features productions of Arthur Miller's The Crucible and Conor McPherson's The Weir. There are co-productions with the Lyric Hammersmith on Tipping The Velvet, and the National Theatre of Scotland and Told by an Idiot for I Am Thomas, a new play about Moliere, Thon Man Moliere, by Liz Lochhead and a stage version of Homer's Iliad by Chris Hannan. With such a strong season, Thomson's departure following a typically fearless statement which declared Creative Scotland's decision to make the cut a 'perverse punishment for acknowledged success' might appear to be connected. In truth, however, Thomson's departure has been in the pipeline for over a year.

“I'd already decided to go long before the funding cut,” he says of the decision, “and it feels both liberating and scary, but with absolutely no sense of, oh, God what have I done? Whatever the arc of my time here has been I do think that because of the shitty thing that has happened to the company in terms of funding, it's not wrong for someone else to come in and think really clearly and unsentimentally about what this place could this be.”

Sitting in the auditorium of the theatre he's called home for more than a decade, Thomson talks about just how special the theatre's fiftieth anniversary is.

“I've just recently passed through my fiftieth portal as well,” he says, “and there's no doubt that invites a degree of reflection on what you've been, on what you are and what you will be, so I've entered the programme with that very much on my mind. It's not about looking back in a nostalgic way, because nostalgia has no place in theatre, but to be able to field someone like Brian Cox, who was in the original Lyceum company, and Billy Paterson, who was here in the sixties, that's the trumpet. That's what a fiftieth season should be about.”

Thomson arrived at the Royal Lyceum in 1993 to take over from Kenny Ireland after running the Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh for several years. A new policy in East Lothian meant that the venue would no longer be a producing house, and, with Ireland departing the Lyceum after his decade-long reign, Thomson stepped up. Prior to that, the Livingston-born director had begun his professional directing career at Theatre Royal Stratford East and the Royal Shakespeare Company before moving back to Scotland.

In the time he has been in Grindlay Street, Thomson has directed over ninety productions, twenty-eight of which were world premieres. Amongst the latter were two plays of his own, including the award winning A Mad Man Sings At The Moon. As well as this, he has built up a core team of associate artists, with director John Dove working his way through Arthur Miller's canon, while Tony Cownie has concentrated largely on more comedic fare. More recently, Amanda Gaughan has demonstrated her directing skills on a big stage with Hedda Gabler, and looks set to continue next year with her production of The Weir.

Thomson put David Tennant on a big Scottish stage playing Jimmy Porter in a production of John Osborne's Look Back in Anger just prior to him taking up his tenure as Dr Who. More recently Thomson packed out the auditorium for a brand new play by Ian Rankin.

Despite such successes, the cut came as a shock, and Thomson still isn't shy of saying what he thinks of it.

“I'm not sorry I said what I did,” he says of his original reaction. “You can't be putting on plays like The Crucible and not say what you think, otherwise I'm a fraud. Very fundamentally, Creative Scotland's decision to cut us felt ill thought out. It felt like we'd become part of a numbers game that didn't relate to the quality of the work. I didn't feel like they had a vision for us other than to do it for less, and at that point I don't know what the conversation is. I don't know how to talk to them, because I don't know what they mean.

“It became very close to wondering if they want a company at all. It's a cut of over 200 grand a year, which is almost a third of our entire production budget. When you think the fabric is being damaged, not the garden, but the reason the house exists, you can't not say something.”

As it is, the conversation that has occurred has enabled the Lyceum to function at the same level for this year and next, with a massive fund-raising operation necessary to make the third year in the theatre's funding cycle happen at all. By that time Thomson will be long gone, though doing what he genuinely hasn't a clue.

For the immediate future Thomson will be looking to cast Lucky in Waiting For Godot. Given that the role requires the actor to perform one of the lengthiest speeches in modern dramatic history, this will be no easy task. As he breezes into the theatre foyer, however, it's a task he clearly relishes.

“I don't want to be ten per cent less,”he says. “That's what happens if you stay somewhere too long. I want to be a hundred per cent, but I feel quite freed about next year. It's oddly liberating, and doesn't feel at all sad for me. It's really exciting, and doesn't even feel like it's a last hurrah. I just feel like I'm coming into work really happy and positive, and that's okay, isn't it?”

Tickets for all shows in the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh's 50th anniversary season are on sale now.
www.lyceum.org.uk

ends

Monday, 18 May 2015

Happy Days

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

When the bell rings to mark the beginning and end of Winnie's day in Andy Arnold's exquisite revival of Samuel Beckett's classic piece of existential vaudeville, it's urgent peals may suggest closing time on some kind of gladitorial struggle, but her enforced stillness says otherwise. Such contradictions of hope and despair are at the heart of Beckett's work, and, buried to her waist in the sand as if the victim of some urchins prank while sleeping, Karen Dunbar's Winnie is an equally mercurial creature.

One minute she's all smiles, rummaging through the bag beside her for an assortment of beauty aides to help keep up appearances. The next she's fondling a revolver, waxing lyrical on what the day may or may not bring. Her partner in crime Willie, meanwhile, all but ignores her, hiding from the sun behind a newspaper as he throws out monosyllabic non-sequiters.

The assorted rituals constructed from domestic minutiae Winnie uses to survive are as painfully recognisable as the studied apathy of Willie, played by Arnold himself with quiet desperation.

Designer Carys Hobbs' post-apocalyptic landscape may look to painter Max Ernst for inspiration, but Arnold and Dunbar are as akin to a saucy seaside postcard come to life out of season as to surrealism. Winnie and Willie are the ultimate end of the pier double act giving their all with a kiss me quick routine that will kill ya if it doesn't get them first.

In this respect Dunbar performs the remarkable feat of taking what can often be played as an interior monologue and externalising it. Without ever overplaying it, there's a nod to the audience here and an eye-roll there. The business with the hat and the painted on showbiz smiles are the stuff of music hall and silent movies.

As masterful Dunbar is with such comic material, she is even more so in the play's more insular and pathos-driven second half, where her wonderfully held silences speak volumes about the pain she's in, only for her to be mercifully saved by the bell. Again.

The Herald, May 18th 2015

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Sunday, 17 May 2015

Al Pacino – The Local Stigmatic

Beyond his iconic movie roles, Al Pacino is a consummate man of the theatre. His 1996 documentary, Looking For Richard, explored Shakespeare's Richard III, a role Pacino played on Broadway in 1979. Pacino had already won a Tony award a decade earlier for his career-launching performance in Don Peterson's play, Does A Tiger Wear A Necktie?

More recently Pacino played Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and appeared in a revival of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross. Mamet wrote China Doll, which has just been on Broadway, especially for Pacino. It was while appearing in a 1983 revival of Mamet's American Buffalo that Pacino first thought about filming a play that had lived with him since his early days at New York's legendary Actor's Studio.

The Local Stigmatic was an early work by poet and doyen of London's 1960s counter-cultural underground, Heathcote Williams, and was first performed at Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre in 1966 in a double bill with The Dwarves, a short work by Harold Pinter.

Williams' play focuses on two men, Graham and Ray, who spend their time at the greyhound track or in the pub. It is in the latter they spot a well-known actor whose image appears in one of the celebrity magazines that Graham laps up. Fan-boy fawning turns to vicious retribution, however, as they walk the actor home.

Pacino first acted in The Local Stigmatic in 1968, and eventually appeared in an Off-Broadway production that looked set to close after one night before Jon Voight stepped up to fund a week-long run. Pacino returned to The Local Stigmatic six years later with his Godfather co-star John Cazale, and he eventually produced David Wheeler's 1990 film version, playing Graham opposite Paul Guilfoyle as Ray. While never commercially released, it appeared on DVD as part of an Al Pacino box set released in 2007.

Given both Pacino and Williams' ambivalence towards fame, Graham's defining statement to Ray becomes a manifesto for both men.

"Fame is the first disgrace,” says Graham, “because God knows who you are. God knows who YOU are.”

The Herald, May 16th 2015

 
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Thursday, 14 May 2015

Normal/Madness

Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh
Three stars

It's a mad world for Kirsty, the young woman at the centre of Fiona Geddes' solo play, revived following its Edinburgh Festival Fringe run for a series of dates to tie in with Mental Health Awareness Week. One minute she's quoting French novelist Marguerite Duras regarding the unhinged proclivities of mums everywhere, the next she's rewinding her own back pages beside the seaside or else taking a phone call from her own mother to prove Duras' point. Somewhere inbetween she's taking second and third opinions from a conveyor belt of doctors regarding the nature of schizophrenia, an illness she's so au fait with that she even wore the t-shirt.

As performed by Geddes herself in Jessica Beck's production for the fledgling Kidder company, the end result is a quasi stand-up tale of ordinary madness and the hand-me-down legacy left in its wake. Barely still for a second beside a chair perched on a low angled platform, Geddes embarks on an emotional merry-go-round as she flits between wryly related anecdotes that move towards something more troubling.

It is Geddes' portrayal of Kirsty's mother that provides some of the play's most poignant moments, while a grown-up Kirsty comes to terms with a potentially childless future with a bi-polar boyfriend. Out of something that could easily have become angst-ridden comes a life-affirming display of acceptance and understanding through the mutual bond of familial love. To lend charm to such sensitive material is a difficult act to pull off, but Geddes does it with aplomb, as anyone who sees the show tonight and this weekend at the Tron in Glasgow as part of the theatre Mayfesto season should find out.
 
The Herald, May 15th 2015
 
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