JOYCE MCMILLAN on BANDAGES at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 6.5.13.
3 stars ***
IT’S EXACTLY thirty years, this weekend, since the launch of Mayfest, Glasgow’s late, great international festival of popular theatre and music; and sixteen years on from its much-mourned demise, it has a plucky little successor in the Tron Theatre’s annual “Mayfesto” event, designed to reflect on the state of our society now.
The only problem, though, is that Mayfesto’s first mainstage show – in Glasgow over the weekend – turned out to be as depressive and introverted a piece of violent “theatre of blood” as British theatre has produced in a while. There’s no faulting the production of Kirsty Houseley’s Bandages created by TEG Productions and the Corn Exchange, Newbury. Impeccably directed by Houseley herself, Bandages tells the story of two reclusive sisters bound together by a ferocious shared narrative of the night they were born, and of the knife-wielding fury of their mother, a young and beautiful butcher forced into unwanted pregnancy by a predatory boss; until supermarket assistant Bob intervenes, trying to befriend the older sister, and the story lurches towards a bloody conclusion.
All this is powerfully conveyed by Houseley’s script, by Merle Hensel and Moi Tran’s nightmarish floral-wallpapered box of a set, and by Bernadette Russell and Sarah Thom as the sisters. What’s not clear, though, after 80 intense and sickening minutes, is why any of it matters. Even the feminist overtones of the story become blurred, as the sisters’ narrative falls apart; and in the end, it’s hard to see why anyone seeking a radical or thought-provoking night out should buy a ticket for such a concentrated dose of misery.