How to Choose?

Sep 17 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩ Intriguingly informative

Traverse Theatre Tue 16 Sept and online broadcast.

The question of the week in Triggerstuff’s clever and illuminating production, at the Traverse for one performance only, is not what side to take: whether to be Yes or No. The question is one of how you get to that decision.

Gary McNair and Davey Anderson. Photo: Jassy Earl Photography

Gary McNair and Davey Anderson. Photo: Jassy Earl Photography

Framing this question, Gary McNair conjures up a voter on their way to their referendum poling place. As the rain mizzles down around the bus on their hour-long journey and atmosphere builds up on stage through judicious use of ambient sound, they ponder on which way to vote.

They have had information – up to their ears – for years. Opinions have been sought and  expressed, but still the decision is not made: It is not that they are apathetic, just undecided.

And so, with Davey Anderson joining McNair to ask questions and manipulate the portable recording devices around the stage, the pair enter the radio station of the putative voter’s mind. This is where the memories are kept, where they go to examine what they have heard in all the years of debate.

And it is a fascinatingly well-informed place, this imagined radio station of an imagined mind. Here are the words of lecturers in philosophy and logics, those who specialise in the manipulation of information and those who specialise in examining how even-handedness is expressed.

Here, it seems that questions beget questions. What is Scotland and what is Scottish identity? And if actively asking the question changes your perception of what the answer might be, what happens when the whole nation asks that question and picks over what the answer might be for years.

With light and dextrous touch, Anderson and McNair bring these and many more questions to be gently prodded at in what turns out to be more of a theatrical representation of an in-depth magazine feature than an actual play.

There are paces it could go further – particularly in challenging the role of those who manipulate information. Not lying, but presenting it in such a way that it will persuade you to do one thing or another. However, illumination is the real objective here and just showing that such things exist and revealing a bit of how they work is maybe enough.

Although emphatically a piece of live theatre, with the staging adding to the experience and enhancing the understanding of what is being said, How to Choose? also exists as a stand alone online radio broadcast. It is intriguing stuff and well worth listening to, in its own right.

Running time: 50 minutes.
Traverse Theatre. Tue 16 September 2014. Run ended.

Touring to:
The Arches 253 Argyle St, Glasgow G2 8DL
17 September 9pm
Phone: 0141 565 1000

Triggerstuff website:


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