Nothing To See Here

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JOYCE MCMILLAN on NOTHING TO SEE HERE at Linksfield Community Centre, Aberdeen, for The Scotsman 16.3.11
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4 stars ****

WITHIN A FEW MONTHS, THE OLD 1960s school building that houses Linksfield Community Centre in Aberdeen will be pulled down; and perhaps it’s the sense of imminent extinction that lends such an edge of freedom, excitement and wildness to the final show in this huge joint community project run by Aberdeen City Council and the National Theatre of Scotland. Titled Extreme, and involving more than 250 people – most of them youngsters – the project now reaches its climax in an extraordinary piece of indoor promenade theatre, which divides its audience into groups of two or three, and then throws them – over a period of an hour – through a series of seven or eight increasingly extreme situations.

So we begin in a hospital unit where a dying man offers us his last requests; then we’re in a classroom full of out-of-control kids, or danced round the room by a terrifyingly sinister guy in a blood-spattered basement, and finally morphed into a celebrity pop group, taking the stage for our comeback concert. Some of the situations are fun, some are disturbing; all have a strange capacity to remind us of long-forgotten parts of our personalities.

And what’s striking, too, is the clarity of performance delivered by the young people who make each of these experiences work, taking on the character of a harassed nurse or a bossy road manager with terrific focus and flair. The NTS creative team, led by Simon Sharkey and Graham McLaren, can take real pride in the work they’ve done here, to free the imagination, and create a thought-provoking roller-coaster of theatrical experience. And Nothing To See Here is also the best fun evening I’ve had in the theatre for a while, a rare combination of promenade show, party and gig; see it this week, before that final piece of performance art – the demolition job – reduces this great, brutal old building to dust.

ENDS ENDS

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