Sep 10 2018 | By More

★★★☆☆      Solid social commentary

Traverse Theatre: Fri 7/Sat 8 Sept 2018
Review by Liam Rees

After a Fringe full of blockbuster productions, the Traverse’s autumn season kicks off with Nests, a two-hander that looks at social inequality and considers what we can learn from crows.

Crows are quite remarkable creatures. They’re intelligent and care for abandoned baby birds. 12 year-old Justin, played by Ashleigh Moore, listens and learns from these compassionate corvids and consequently he invites us to question the relationship between kindness and intelligence.

(2) Frozen Charlotte & Stadium Rock NESTS by Xena Marwick, Directed by Heather Fulton, Cast David McKay (The Father), Ashleigh More (The Boy), Photo credit Mihaela Bodlovic

Ashleigh Moore and David McKay. Pic: Mihaela Bodlovic

All this, in amongst his day to day challenges of scavenging for food and trying to find his parents.

Justin is one of the estimated 4.1 million children living in poverty in the UK, finding some semblance of safety and security on the edge of society with an initially reluctant father figure, played by David McKay.

McKay has a lovely warmth whilst retaining plenty of complex character flaws and Moore manages to be expressive with Justin’s youthful inability to articulate himself.

The pair have wonderful chemistry as they learn and support each other, dredging up their dark pasts and sometimes turning on each other. Interspersed with radio clips about the ongoing child poverty crisis, with sound design by Matt Elliot, we’re presented with the rather bleak picture in which individual efforts are rendered futile in the face of systemic problems.

searching social commentary

Xana Marwick’s script and Heather Fulton’s production are full of searching social commentary. This is enjoyably multi-layered, avoiding predictable plot twists although occasionally labouring the point in its dialogue.

(1) Frozen Charlotte & Stadium Rock NESTS by Xena Marwick, Directed by Heather Fulton, Cast David McKay (The Father), Ashleigh More (The Boy), Photo credit Mihaela Bodlovic

David McKay and Ashleigh Moore. Pic: Mihaela Bodlovic

Kate Charter and Claire Lamond’s animation and Gerron Stewart’s lighting design complement the hint of magical realism to Justin’s interaction with crows – though it would be interesting to see this element of the production developed further.

Ultimately Nests sits somewhere between optimism and pessimism, acknowledging the sheer immensity of the problems facing those on the edges of society and asking if we, as a society, have actually advanced at all in terms of basic empathy and compassion.

There is hope, however, in our capacity to learn and help each other but that involves the deceptively simple act of listening.

Running time 1 hour 10 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Friday 7 – Saturday 8 September 2018
Daily at 8pm

Frozen Charlotte:
Stadium Rock:

Nests on tour September 2019:
Thurs 13 – Sat 15 Sept Glasgow
Tron Theatre
0141 552 4267 Book online
Sept St Andrews
Byre Theatre
01334 475 000 Book online
Fri 21 Sept Stirling
Macrobert Arts Centre
01786 466 666 Book online
Sat 22 Sept Greenock
Beacon Arts Centre
01475 723 723 Book online
Wed 26 Sept Paisley
Paisley Arts Centre
0300 300 1210 Book online
Thurs 27 Sept Banchory
The Barn
01330 825 431 Book online
Frid 28 Sept Findhorn
Findhorn Bay Festival
01309 675333 Book online
Sat 29 Sept Banff
Banff Academy
07528 849055 Book online


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