Daily Archives: August 23, 2012

Small Narration

THEATRE
Small Narration
4 stars ****
Summerhall (Venue 26)

IN ONE OF THE creaking Summerhall lecture theatres, a young man with a shut-down expression and haunted eyes sits on a high stool, reading expressionlessly from a script in which reflects on his experiences of the last few years. His name is Wojtek Ziemilski; and behind him, a screen shows an almost bewildering series of images.

Sometimes, there are pages of text from the report which exposed Ziemilski’s grandfather as a long -term informer with the Communist Security Services; sometimes, there is video of recent operformance art installations across Europe, each one more absurdist in intention than the last. And shatteringly, towards the end, there are a few fragments of film of Ziemilski’s grandfather himself, a shuffling, harmless-looking old man, intercut with black-and-white photograhps of him in his smiling prime.

Ziemlinski’s deliberately blank delivery is not easy to listen to, and no-one could describe this short 45 minute show as entertainment. Yet it has a certain grim beauty of its own; and in the end, it delivers a quietly devastating account of the forces that have compelled a generation to abandon grand narratives and to question the very idea of a search for meaning, in the world of illusions, lies and uncertainties their parents and grandparents have left them.

Joyce McMillan
Until 23 August
p. 320

ENDS ENDS

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Pages From The Book Of….

THEATRE
Pages From The Book Of….
3 stars ***
Summerhall (Venue 26)

THERE’S A RULE OF THREE operating in this ambitious show – by the 50 Letters Theatre Company of Rose Bruford College – based on the life and work of the Polish artist, writer and critic Bruno Schulz, shot by the Gestapo in 1942. Devised in collaboration with two surviving members of Tadeusz Kantor’s original Tricot 2 company of the 1970’s, the show tells the story of a mid-20th-century everyman who travels to a strange sanatorium in a distant town in search of his long-lost father; and deploys a huge student company of around 20 actors across a tale of fractured realities that really requires a small cast, and some emotional and intellectual clarity.

The result is a show in which every scene contains three times as many performers as it needs, and therefore lasts three times as long as it should, indulging in far too much repetition along the way. Despite these limitations, though – and what is often an embarrassingly mannered attempt to reproduce Kantor’s white-faced 1970’s style in the world of 2012 – 50 Letters’s production features two impressive lead performances, and looks suitably dingy and handsome throughout. And always, the legacy of Schulz shines through in the story itself, full of an absurd and haunting sense of humanity, even in its most disturbing moments.

Joyce McMillan
Until 24 August
p. 307

ENDS ENDS