JOYCE MCMILLAN on ARCHES LIVE! 2012 (1) at the Arches Theatre, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 19.9.12
Fire Into Song 3 stars ***
Misconstructions – The Eigg Lectures Version 4 2 stars **
Minotaur/Monitor 3 stars ***
THERE’S SOMETHING PRIMAL about the first batch of shows in this year’s Arches Live! festival; although whether the recurring interest in ancient myths and legends is a serious sign of the times remains to be proven. Cara Berger’s 40-minute piece Fire Into Song is a powerful case in point, a female revisiting of the Prometheus myth, in which Berger tries to imagine that the mythical figure who created humanity and stole fire from the gods could have been a woman.
Given the intense erotic content of Calum Rodger’s infinitely reshuffling live-generated poetry, it seems as though the performance – articulated through Vanessa Coffey’s powerful dance, to Joshua Payne’s soundscape and Victoria Beesley’s reading of the text – could make more of the idea of birth and destruction in women’s lives. This is a far more thrilling and dramatic show, though, than Alexander Stevenson’s Misconstructions: The Eigg Lectures, which alternates between three performance areas offering low-level dance, hesitant storytelling, and miniature academic lectures read by audience volunteers. The idea is an interesting one, about an outsider in an island community, a trickster, myth-maker, storyteller; but the execution is patchy at best.
All of which leaves Calum MacAskill’s ten-minute miniature Minotaur/Monitor as the most coherent theatrical experience of the evening, as a hooded figure leads the lone audience member through the labyrinth of the Arches basement, to meet the agonised, suffering creature – half man, half bull – buried in its depths. Born a monster, this minotaur is, in part, an old man whose physical deformity brings agonising pain. Yet as the mythical story of the minotaur growls from an old tape recorder, and MacAskill lurches through the dark space in an astonishing bull’s head mask, the ancient horror of the story comes fiercely to life, with a strange and chilling contemporary force.