JOYCE MCMILLAN on AS AN DORCHADAS/OUT OF DARKNESS at the Tramway, Glasgow, LOVE 2.0 at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, and COCKTAIL at the Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock, for The Scotsman 2.3.15.
As An Dorchadas 4 stars ****
Love 2.0 3 stars ***
Cocktail: Fear, Pain Power 3 stars ***
501 Shields Road, Glasgow; it’s a spacious Edwardian family house, and in our imaginations, it belongs to Deirdre, an old lady who is about to move out into sheltered housing. Before she goes, though, an audience of strangers – divided into four groups, drifting through rooms darkened to atmospheric candlelight by a power-cut – is briefly allowed to move through her house, watching her memories of a life that involved a powerful Gaelic heritage.
So in the bedroom, we see her Hebridean parents, married in 1911, waking homesick in the night, and listening to the sound of the sea in a shell. In the study, we see her cousin Maeve, a child during the Second World War, her imagination fired by her family’s stories of travels across the British Empire, and by the shadows on the study walls. In the hall, a young couple dance, perhaps a younger version of Deirdre and her husband William; and upstairs, in the 1970’s, their daughter Fiona and Maeve’s daughter Lori frighten themselves telling ghost stories in a tent – until Fiona catches a glimpse of us, the future, staring back at them.
Then it’s back to the living room, and a final, present-day encounter with Deirdre, beautifully played by Beathag Mhoireasdan; in a gorgeous piece of Gaelic-language drama that could go deeper into the story it tells, but that nonetheless marks a vital, imaginative development for Gaelic drama in Glasgow, pulled together by performer and lead deviser Catriona Lexy Campbell, and sponsored by the Gaelic arts programme at Glasgow Life.
If Glasgow is a city of migration, then the biggest was the huge Irish Catholic migration of the 19th and early 20th century, which aroused a firestorm of sectarian feeling in Scotland. Cocktail: Fear, Pain, Power is the latest show from issue-based community theatre company conFab, co-sponsored by the West of Scotland Regional Equality Council; and if, like As An Dorchadas, it owes its life to an official funding stream, it nonetheless emerges as a passionate and thoughtful verbatim show, exploring how sectarianism still darkens human lives in Scotland today. There’s a cast of eight, a three-piece band, and a series of powerful songs; and its theme-song, Leave It Alone, memorably addresses the reluctance to talk about sectarianism that is a marked feature of 21st century Scottish life, and that still allows it to thrive, in some communities across the country.
In its new touring show Love 2.0, meanwhile, the young Scottish-based touring company Sleeping Warrior present a new play by Andy McGregor that has nothing specifically to do with Scotland, and everything to do with the global social networking culture that has transformed our social lives in the last 15 years. Suzie and Gary are a pair of Facebook kids, interacting almost entirely through the “pokes” and “likes” of their favourite social networks; and their ill-fated attempt to start a real-life relationship provides some hilarious and often frighteningly insightful moments, as McGregor leads us through this lightweight but well-crafted 65-minute sitcom, featuring two fine performance from Lucy Goldie and Samuel Keefe.
As An Dorchadas, run completed. Cocktail at The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 5 and 7 March. Love 2.0 on tour, and at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 10-14 March.