JOYCE MCMILLAN on GENDER DIVIDE at the Tramway, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 20.12.10
4 stars ****
THE ANIMALS WENT IN TWO by two; and since the subject is gender, there’s two of almost everything around Junction 25’s new show, presented as part of the Fresh Faced event at the Tramway, and marking the end of this award-winning youth company’s longest and most ambitious project so far.
So we enter the audience through two separate doorways – one for men, one for women – and sit in two separate banks of seating, facing each other, although the space is sometimes divided by a black curtain. The show has two casts – ten young women, seven young men – performing in two slightly different shows, close, but not quite the same. And the cast-list comes in two columns, men to the left, women to the right; the female project is led by Glas(s) Performance stars Jess Thorpe and Tashi Gore with Rosana Cade, and the male one by Nick Anderson, Thom Scullion and Gary Gardiner.
And what does the show say? Well, it admits that it offers questions, rather than answers, about the qualities traditionally assigned to the two genders, and about the absurdity of trying to apply those generalisations to individual boys and girls. There’s a great scene in which Francesca and Scott circle one another, discussing who is best at what, and finally exploding into a ridiculous race; and a magnificent sequence in which Nathan and Becca open their heavily gendered Christmas presents, hers suffering from the tyranny of pink, his from the tyranny of black and khaki. And if the show doesn’t quite soar to the lyrical heights of Junction 25’s great piece about love, I Hope My Heart Goes First, it has exactly the same sense of restless inquiry, sharp choreography, classy scriptwriting, and explosive collective energy. Oh yes, and a powerful sense of freedom; which for kids growing up in 2010, is perhaps the most significant quality of all.