The Hold

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JOYCE MCMILLAN on THE HOLD at the National Museum of Scotland, for The Scotsman 15.3.14.
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4 stars ****

LUNG HA’S THEATRE COMPANY has produced some memorable shows, over the years, in its work featuring adults with learning difficulties. Not since Huxley’s Lab in 2010, though, have they created a show that so perfectly matches the setting to the theme, and to the quality of the performers, as this beautiful 65-minute journey around the Museum Of Scotland, which asks us to examine the ways in which we cling to “things” as mementoes of a lost past.

So in the museum, we meet Peter, beautifully played by John Edgar, an old man who once worked here as a curator, and who wants to leave to the museum the boxes of “things” that sum up his life, and connect him with his long-lost son. With him is the excellent Teri Robb as Sally, a young carer who can’t see why anyone needs any archive beyond a Facebook timeline or Flickr account ; we also meet two generations of arrogant museum directors played with style by Stephan Tait, the haunting figures of young Peter and his love, and various staff and visitors, including Bridget, who has lost her own little daughter in the museum.

Maria Oller’s production offers a fine script by Adrian Osmond, luscious music for classical quintet by Kenneth Dempster, and a wonderful guided walk for the audience. In the end, though, it’s the rare directness and emotional openness of the performances that reaches the heart; and makes us think again about the things we love, and whether they are, finally, only poor substitutes for the loved ones we have lost.

National Museum Of Scotland until tomorrow, 16 March.

ENDS ENDS

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