JOYCE MCMILLAN on THE RIOT OF SPRING at the Tramway, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 11.5.13.
3 stars ***
AFTER THE intense reflection on the current wave of sex abuse scandals that shaped Rob Drummond’s recent Traverse hit Quiz Show, I suppose he might be permitted the odd moment of artistic introspection. All the same, there is something truly mind-blowing about the strange collision between focussed political fury and sheer creative self-absorption that characterises his new show, developed as part of the current Arches/National Theatre Of Scotland Auteurs Project.
Inspired by the centenary of Stravinsky’s hugely controversial ballet The Rite Of Spring – which opened in Paris in May 1913 – Drummond’s show, created and performed by Drummond himself with dancer Robbie Synge and musician Peter Nicholson, seeks to reflect both on some themes of the ballet, including the sacrifice of the young and the frenzy of the tribe, and on the whole idea of originality in art. And perhaps unsurprisingly, the first of these two strands, linking the rage and ritual of the Rite Of Spring to the riots of 2011, and the subsequent harsh punishment of the young people involved, seems more powerful and substantial than the second.
So Drummond’s 60-minute show is at its strongest when he produces a sudden blast of fierce political poetry, or when the three men, in matching grey hoodies, create a beautifully-choreographed reflection in movement on the mood of the riots; at its weakest when it messes about with audience participation, and chats on about why the show cannot, in fact, feature any of Stravinsky’s music. The pace is sometimes dilatory, the content sometimes over-dependent on an audience of arts professionals obsessed with the minutiae of their own business. Yet there are moments when this piece soars into pure political poetry, weaving words and sound, light and movement, into a beautiful and complex cry of protest; and for those moments, the wait is well worth while.