SpectreTown

August 15, 2015 | By | 1 Reply More

✭✭✭✭✩     Diffuse and troubling

Assembly Hall (Venue 35): Thurs 6 – Mon 31 August 2015

SpectreTown, Stoirm Òg’s co-production with Cumbernauld Theatre, lacks focus and seems to be flying off in different directions at the same time. This leads to a production that is almost wilfully confusing, but has an undeniable power.

Elspeth Turner’s story, set in the North East, takes its inspiration from the Bothy Ballads and operates in a double time scheme.

Elspeth Turner. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

Elspeth Turner. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

In the past, there is the story of farmhand Doddie West and his romance with Nan; a romance that is hampered by his interest in a new minister who preaches social equality, and by his induction into the secret society that is ‘the horseman’s word’. A parallel story unfolds in the present, with Mark Wood and Turner herself playing parts in both.

The Doric language may seem to present an initial barrier for some, but it is cleverly and simply used. Other elements of the play, however, may present greater barriers to understanding.

Here we seem to have not just a variety of influences, but several different plays. The sequences set in the past have echoes of Bondagers or Knives In Hens, in the evocation of a vanished rural way of life with its hardships, entrenched system of power and harsh magic. The modern-day sequences are more melodramatic, almost approaching League of Gentlemen territory in the one-armed Izzy (an effectively otherworldly Bridget McCann) chasing rats.

a Doric Eugene O’Neill

The combination of the two time periods deals with the ‘stain’ of history and inheritance like a Doric Eugene O’Neill. The two stories never come together in the way they might, and some of the characterisation is bafflingly unsubtle. Turner’s energetic, sparky style and Wood’s more downbeat playing are both impressive, but work against each other rather than together.

The set is distractingly cluttered, much of the puppetry is difficult to make out, and Matt Regan’s folk-inspired music is diffuse and naggingly ethereal. All of this helps to give the piece a troubling, almost nightmarish atmosphere that is further enhanced by some jarring leaps in time and tone. Matthew Lenton’s direction is so admirably clear-sighted at times that it seems obvious that those parts left opaque are deliberate. The overall impression is of an overwrought, overcooked and thoroughly uneven piece.

Which is what gives it much of its appeal. There is an undeniable power to the production lingering after the end that would be absent in a neater package. There is a darkness and fatalism to the story, and a rawness and fallibility to the people in it, that has a deep and troubling resonance, while its determination not to be easily understood or processed is praiseworthy.

Running time 1 hour 15 minutes
Assembly Hall (Venue 35), Mound Place, EH1 2LU
Thursday 6 – Mon 31 August 2015
Daily (not Mon 17 or Mon 24) at 1.30 pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/spectretown
Company website: http://stoirmog.blogspot.co.uk/

StrangeTown on tour in September 2015

BEACON ARTS CENTRE
Wednesday 2nd September, 7.30pm
Tickets: £10 / £8 Conc
www.beaconartscentre.co.uk
Box Office: 01475 723723

DRUIMFIN, TOBERMORY
Thursday 3rd September, 8.00pm
Tickets: £10 / £8 Conc
www.comar.co.uk
Box Office: 01688 302211

MACROBERT ARTS CENTRE
Friday 4th September, 7.30pm
Tickets: £12 / £10.50 Conc / £5.50 Students
www.macrobertartscentre.org
Box Office: 01786 466666

ACT ABERDEEN
Saturday 5th September, 7.30pm
Sunday 6th September, 2.30pm
Monday 7th September, 7.00pm
Tickets: £12 / £10 Conc
www.act-aberdeen.org.uk
Box Office: 01224 641122

BATHGATE REGAL THEATRE
Wednesday 9th September, 7.30pm
Tickets: £10
www.bathgateregal.org
Box Office: 01506 630085

PLATFORM
Thursday 10th September, 7.00pm
Platform
Tickets: £8 / £4.50 Conc / £3.50 local links
www.platform-online.co.uk
Box Office: 0141 2769696 (opt 1)

STRATHEARN ARTSPACE, CRIEFF
Friday 11th September, 7.30pm
Tickets: £10 / £8 Conc
www.strathearnartspace.co.uk
Box Office: 07889 145899 (Strathearn Arts) or 01764 650059 (Carnelian Crafts)

THE BRUNTON, MUSSELBURGH
Saturday 12th September, 7.30pm
Tickets: £12.50 / £10.50 Conc
www.thebrunton.co.uk
Box Office: 0131 6652240

THE BYRE THEATRE
Sunday 13th September, 7.30pm
Tickets: £12 / £10 Conc / £5 Students
www.byretheatre.com
Box Office: 01334 475000

EDEN COURT THEATRE
Monday 14th September, 8.00pm
Tickets: £12 / £10 Conc
www.eden-court.co.uk
Box Office: 01463 234234

THE STEEPLE, NEWBURGH
Wednesday 16th September, 7.30pm
Tickets: £10
www.steeplearts.co.uk
Tickets available from Twist Fibre Craft Studio or on the door

WOODEND BARN, BANCHORY
Thursday 17th September, 7.30pm
Tickets: £12, £10 conc, £5.50 students in advance
£13, £11 conc, £6.50 students on the door
www.woodendbarn.co.uk
Box Office: 01330 825431

DALRYMPLE HALL & ART CENTRE, FRASERBURGH
Friday 18th September, 7.30pm
Tickets: £9 / £8 Conc / £6 Conc
www.neatshows.org.uk
Box Office: 01346 518715 (R & S Dyga Newsagents) or on the door

VICTORIA HALL, ELLON
Saturday 19th September, 8.00pm
Tickets: £9 / £7 Conc
www.victoriahallellon.co.uk
Tickets available from J&K Shoes, The Ellon Chocolate Bar or on the door

THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION, BUCKIE
Sunday 20th September, 7.30pm
Tickets: £9 / £8 Conc / £6 Conc
www.neatshows.org.uk
Box Office: 01542 831423 or Taylor Pharmacy

ENDS

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