JOYCE MCMILLAN on ARCHES LIVE! 2012 (2) at the Arches Theatre, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 22.9.12
Macbeth 4 stars ****
Make Do And Mend 3 stars ***
Ndgame 3 stars ***
Funk’n’Love 3 stars ***
IN A DEEP dark arch, somewhere under central station, tattered flags hang from the ceilling, filthy and bloodied. The light is dim; a group of six face-painted drummers dressed in black stand gathered around a fallen steel cupboard. As a ferocious soundscape fills the space, they begin to beat on the steel with drumsticks; the sound – including fragments of Shakespeare’s verse – is terrifying, like a solid wall of horror sweeping out through the audience.
This is the Black Sun Drum Korps’s 25-minute Macbeth, part of the second group of shows in this year’s Arches Live! festival. The show describes itself as offering highlander rhythms, dark magick and industrial witchcraft; but in truth it seems more frightening than that, a dark vision of some violent, blood-boltered Scottish past that could return to haunt us still.
Elsewhere, though, the exploration of identity seem more gentle. In Lucy Hutson’s thoughtful installation-with-video Make Do And Mend, it’s all about gender, family, old domestic skills, and what women’s changing roles have done to relations between the generations. In Andrew Houston’s hugely ingenious and promising 20-minute fragment Ndgame, the characters of Clov and Hamm from Beckett’s Endgame re-enact their final drama through a world of virtual reality, where the switching off of a laptop screen represents extinction.
And in Funk’n’Love, Solar Bear and Deaf Youth Theatre produce a gorgeous piece of youth theatre about the music we love, and the dreams that inspire us, full of a fine mix of music, video, animation, and live performance by a terrific young cast. The style is familiar, from shows by companies like Ontroerend Goed and Junction 25. But the music – by electronic/bhangra duo Tigerstyle – is fine, made visible in a projected sound-desk display; and the sheer joy of the performance is as infectious as it is life-affirming.