JOYCE MCMILLAN on ARCHES LIVE ! 2012 (3) at the Arches Theatre, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 27.9.12
Robinson Family Undercover Secret Agents 3 stars ***
The Miss Kitty Show 3 stars ***
L’Eveil 3 stars ***
IF THE SHOWS in this year’s Arches Live! festival are any guide, both the personal and the political loom large in the work of the current generation of emerging artists; it’s just that sometimes, there are boundary issues about the relationship between the two. Ian Nulty’s Robinson Family Undercover Secret Agents starts in chilling political style, with a screen display of some of the sickening anti-Obama propaganda produced by the American far right; both racist and Islamophobic, it sets the scene for some powerful sequences in which Nulty – as his right-wing alter ego Robert Robinson – indulges in real-time, real-life Facebook chat with America’s huge army of right-wing Christians, ranting on about the Rapture, and their hopes for an imminent war on Iran.
Nulty’s problem, though, is that he can’t resist combining this hair-raising political expose with some showy and awkward provocations about his life as a gay man in Britain. And the sense of confusion created by this shifting focus makes Catriona Ruth Paterson’s much shorter Miss Kitty Show – a spectacularly-styled work-in-progress collision between the ideal-housewife aesthetic of the 1950’s, and the brutal demands for perfection still inflicted on young women today – look like a more coherent account of the interface between the personal and the political, despite an embryonic script, and slightly hesitant performance.
As for Mona Kastell’s L’Eveil, it’s billed as a “costume-led” show, and its solo performer Mazz Marsden does indeed wear a remarkable, chrysalis-like hemp costume, as she dances her way through something like the emergence of a dragon-fly, and its first stretching of its wings. The content, though, doesn’t amount to much more than a familiar series of movement-theatre cliches about birth, hatching, the life-cycle; attractive to look at, particularly when the light shimmers through the rough fabric, but not original enough to linger long in the mind.