JOYCE MCMILLAN on HEAR ME (Gappad at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow) for The Scotsman 8.5.09
3 stars ***
LIKE THEIR LAST SHOW, As You Always Do, this latest piece of work from the Scottish-Polish theatre group Gappad seems to occupy a strange border country between dramatic exercise, and wholehearted theatre. Performed with great intensity by Agnieszka Bresler and Piotr Kurjata, the show tackles a familiar subject – a couple relationship, its lies, passions, and tensions – with extraordinary directness and flair, using an electrifying mix of text, music, light and movement.
There are times when the tension between the ordinary domestic words spoken by the couple, and the subtext of need, desire, rage, boredom or despair reflected in their physical movements, becomes almost frightening in its force. And the show – meticulously directed by Robert Przekwas – also goes deeper, into the uneasy social and political world that creates such relationships. “You would think we were children, playing at marriage,” the couple repeatedly say to one another, looking out at a world that alternates bafflingly between soft-edged reassurance and unimaginable cruelty; and then, they become real children for a while, making flesh the infantilism of their way of life, its powerlessness and lack of responsibility.
Everything about the show, in other words, bursts with talent and insight. The text is fascinating, the performances are vivid and precise, Krzysztof Mielczarek’s music and sound is outstanding. But somehow, there’s a feeling of a group of gifted young artists putting themselves through their paces, rather than throwing themselves into a performance that they want the world to see. Given this company’s position, caught between two cultures, perhaps that sense of the provisional in their work is not surprising. But despite all the talent at their fingertips, it seems that Gappad have still to find the project that will put them where they should be, somewhere near the heart of Scotland’s theatrical life.