Ferguson and Barton

Feb 5 2023 | By More

★★★☆☆  Clever and playful

The Studio: Sat 4 Feb 2023
Review by Allan Wilson

Inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s 1950s film noir classic, Vertigo, Ferguson and Barton at the Studio as part of Manipulate, is a clever and playful attempt to reimagine the original through dance and multimedia projection.

The performers are engaging and the dance sequences are excellent, but this latest piece from Glasgow-based dance-theatre company Shotput really needs a high level of familiarity with the original film to fully appreciate the performance.

Jim Manganello snd Lucy Ireland in Ferguson and Barton Pic: Mihaela Bodlovic.

Ferguson and Barton sees co-creators Lucy Ireland and Jim Manganello take on the roles played in Vertigo by James Stewart and Kim Novak: retired detective John “Scottie” Ferguson and Madeleine Elster / Judy Barton.

The dance sequences are excellent, particularly an early scene when Manganello simultaneously plays Detective Ferguson, his partner and a fugitive criminal in a rooftop chase that ultimately leads to the death of his partner and the resultant trauma for Ferguson that underlies much of the later story.

Ireland cleverly uses dance to hint at the connection between the two characters that she plays, while the scenes where the two performers are dancing in unison are first class.


Multimedia projection from video designer Rob Willoughby combine well with Emma Jones’ lighting design and Anna Yates costume and set design. The use of fixed and hand-held cameras has been skilfully integrated into the performance and there are particularly memorable scenes involving a fish tank and a round make up mirror.

Jim Manganello in Ferguson and Barton Pic: Mihaela Bodlovic.

The dialogue, whether it is from the original movie, or new text created for this performance, is lively and engaging. The relationship between love and obsession is an ongoing theme, frequently going back to Ferguson’s comment, “You know, the Chinese say that once you’ve saved a person’s life, you’re responsible for it forever.”

Much of the new text is designed to help people who are not familiar with Vertigo follow what is happening. This works at a basic level and there is much to appreciate and enjoy in the performance. However, it is likely that only serious fans will understand all of the references to the movie and will recognise where it diverges from the original.

Running time: One hour (no interval)
The Studio, 22 Potterrow, EH8 9BL.
Sat 4 Feb 2023
One performance: 6.30pm.
Run ended

Manipulate website: www.manipulatefestival.org/
Twitter: @manipulatefest
Facebook: @puppetanimationscotland
Instagram: @puppetanimascot

Shotput website: https://www.shotput.org/
Twitter: @ShotputTheatre
Facebook: @ShotputTheatre
Instagram: @shotputtheatre

Lucy Ireland in Ferguson and Barton Pic: Mihaela Bodlovic.


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