JOYCE MCMILLAN on MUTATIS MUTANDIS at the MacRobert Centre, Stirling University, for The Scotsman 2.8.10
4 stars ****
THERE ARE NO FEWER THAN 22 logos on the programme for this weekend’s M-Fest at the MacRobert, the first arts festival in Scotland created by teenagers for teenagers. Each logo represents a funding body or donor who had to be separately chased up before this inspired idea could become a reality; and if there’s one thing the new Creative Scotland could usefully do, it would be to simplify the funding system so as to ease some of this huge administrative burden.
The results, though, are impressive; for you’ll travel a long way, through the summer season of youth theatre, before you’ll see a project as ambitious, spectacular and raunchy as Mutatis Mutandis, the co-production between M-Fest – in the shape of young performers from across Scotland – and the legendary Catalan group La Fura Dels Baus, which forms the centrepiece of the festival.
Staged in the big sports hall of Stirling University, it bills itself as a show about change; but in fact, it seems to be about corrupt forms of power, and how to bring them low. A glowing stepped pyramid in the centre of the hall unfolds into four blocks of power, representing business, the media, the military, and religious hierarchy. Over a dark 60 minutes, driven by powerful vibrating sound, these powers are repeatedly challenged; and the show ends in something like a giant erotic street-party that swirls through the promenade audience, followed by a moment of reconciliation, and healing embrace. What happened? Not sure; but it was beautifully presented, serious in intention, and full of fabulous, unforgettable imagery.