Lyric Hammersmith again yesterday. This time to the smaller Studio space for Vanishing Point’s new production, Subway. This is one that had been glittering near the top of my list of post-Edinburgh transfers which I was determined to catch, mainly I must admit, due to the prospect of a seven-piece Kosovan band providing the music.
The play offers up a vision of a futuristic Edinburgh where the gulf between rich and poor has widened to the point where the ill and uninsured buy lottery tickets for hospital treatment and the vending machines offer advice on getting your all important eight-a-day while declining to serve Irn Bru to the unemployed. The plot is a slivery thing: after a ten year absence from the city, Patrick returns with hopes of some sort of reconciliation with his estranged father. However it’s superbly played by Sandy Grierson, as Patrick, and Rosalind Sydney, as pretty much everyone else. Everything about the production is well choreographed and well executed and the music provided by the onstage band complemented the action wonderfully, drawing out the internal music of the Scottish accents, creating beautiful patterns from words.
This is a production that revels in language in such a way I was easily able to overlook its narrative flaws. (The plot became unnecessarily convoluted, I thought, as the piece progressed and the dystopian imagery wasn’t exactly fresh). But the marriage of music and performance worked perfectly, each element of the staging was in harmony and none of the theatrical devices felt tacked on or gimmicky, as they did in The Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents.
So, yes, good, I liked this one a lot. It was also interesting to note that, as a result I suspect of the presence of the Kosovan musicians, the audience contained an unusually large percentage of eastern Europeans. And much of the post-show debate that I heard appeared to revolve around the, er, intensity of the actors’ Scottish accents and the difficulty in understanding everything that was said. Still, despite the lost-in-translation factor, the overall buzz seemed to be positive.
In things un-theatre, my weekend was spent in Brussels (to mark, what I believe is politely termed, a landmark birthday for my mother). We shopped, we ate, we drank of the Kriek and of the Hoegaarden and failed to do anything at all cultural or mind-widening. Our waistlines on the other hand…