Rantin – Review

Feb 6 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩   Solidarity in storytelling

Julia Taudevin, Kieran Hurley & Drew Wright in the NTS production of Rantin. Photo © Eoin Carey

Julia Taudevin, Kieran Hurley & Drew Wright. Photo © Eoin Carey

Thursday 6 Feb 2014
Review by Thom Dibdin

Possibilities splurge out from Kieren Hurley’s Rantin, which enjoyed a one-night stand at Summerhall while on its month-long tour around the country under the auspices of the National Theatre of Scotland.

Rantin is one big collection of interweaving stories. Even that name is a story. It’s not just by Kieran Hurley but by all its four performers and Hurley’s brother Liam. In exactly the same way, the stories it tells are not about the individuals who feature in them, but attempt to be about all of us.

It is told in an intimate sitting-room ceilidh style – a ceilidh of the kind where everyone in the room gets up and has a turn, not your roll-back-the-carpet and strip the willow kind.

Hurley with Gav Prentice, Julia Taudevin and Drew Wright, sing, perform, chat and play instruments. And in so doing, bring down into the room, glimpses of their characters’ lives.

And with all of its characters being on their way somewhere, it is not hard to see this wonderful, energetic evening, in which songs and stories meet and mingle, as being something of a metaphor for Scotland at this moment in time, in our approach to September 18 2014 and its potentially momentous vote.

So here is the drunken Albert Macpherson, constantly moving on in life, who on this night is moved on from the pub where he has been noisily getting blootered, and finds himself on Methil pier, front door key lost and questioning where to go next.

Or Miriam, on the number 61 bus, travelling through the rain and dark to her first night of a new cleaning job. Hating the hard faces, the rain, the dark, she lets her headphones slip and turns up the volume on her ipod, so the whole bus can share in the joyful music given her by her son.

And above them all, 67 year-old American Howard, flying to his ancestral homeland for the first time, a one-way ticket clutched in his hand, a brain caught in the dichotomy between Braveheart and Trainspotting, and a mouth ready to engage with the newly learned Scottish phrases as he embraces his new home.

In each of these stories – and there are several more – there is a sense of hope in a future to be released, but also a knowledge that any venture is a risky undertaking, one in which the participant is themselves in potential jeopardy.

Sow a seed that alternatives might exist.
Gav Prentice, Julia Taudevin, Drew Wright and Kieran Hurley. Photo © Eoin Carey

Gav Prentice, Julia Taudevin, Drew Wright and Kieran Hurley. Photo © Eoin Carey

If all these stories add meaning, the one of Emma, an itinerant market researcher who has spent the day walking the streets of Edinburgh, is the closest to home. Not because she provides a story set in the Edinburgh – but because her story is set in every town Rantin visits.

Since the announcement of the referendum vote, the arts in general – and theatre in particular – has been challenged to reflect and debate the issues of the referendum. Jonathan Mills has been castigated for saying he won’t include explicitly referendum-orientated works in the EIF. As if art won’t, of its own self, come to reflect the issues prevalent in society around it.

So Emma represents the arts in general, called upon to provide market research into what the population think, there to ask questions, provoke thought, sow a seed that alternatives might exist. And she is also Rantin itself, here for just the one night, to have a great time and a blame-free one-night stand.

And as a participant in that one-night stand, in as much as any Edinburgh audience can be said to be participants at a performance (even when it is a ceilidh-play), it has to be adjudged a success. And one deserving a rather longer relationship than this all-to-brief stay.

Not an unqualified success, sadly, on technical terms, as the acoustics and sound design mitigated against total clarity.

But when it calls for engagement and performance, then Hurley’s laconic way of weaving a line of words into an articulate pattern; Taudevin’s immersion into character and clear singing voice; Wright’s storytelling and singing, and Gav Prentice’s musical and voice, it is all there.

And it is also a reminder, underneath its big celebration of possibility, of the line it quotes from MacPherson’s Rant: “Farewell to Steel and ships and coal, the pride o industry; What price the cost? Oor greatest loss was solidarity.”

Running time 1 hr 30 mins.
Edinburgh run ended. On tour to March 1
Summerhall, 1 Summerhall, Edinburgh, EH9 1PL

Click on image above to purchase the script on Amazon.

Rantin on tour:

Methil Community Education Centre, Bowling Green Street, Leven, Fife, KY8 3DH
Friday 7 February at 7.30pm
Tickets: 01592 583302 | www.onfife.com

Birnam Institute, Station Road, Birnam, Dunkeld, PH8 0DS
Saturday 8 February 2014 at 7.30pm
Tickets: 01738 621031 | www.horsecross.co.uk

Woodend Barn, Banchory, Aberdeenshire, AB31 5QA
Tuesday 11 February at 7.30pm
£10/£8 (advance), £11/£9 (on the door) plus booking fee
Tickets: 01330 825431 | www.woodendbarn.com

The Warehouse, Pitgaveny Quay, Lossiemouth, IV31 6TW
Wednesday 12 February at 7.30pm
Tickets: 01343 814004 | www.thewarehousetheatre.co.uk

Assembly Rooms, Sinclair Terrace, Wick, KW1 5AB
Thursday 13 February at 7.30pm
Tickets: 01955 602211 | Flower Patch

Kirkwall Town Hall, Broad Street, Orkney, KW15 1DH
Saturday 15 February at 7.30pm
£10/ £8
Tickets: 018560 872239 | (Gooves Record Shop)

Mill Theatre, Millbank, Thurso, KW14 8PS
Tuesday 18 February at 7.30pm
Tickets: 01847 894698

Tongue Village Hall, Caithness, Sutherland, IV27
Wednesday 19 February at 7.30pm
Tickets: 01847 611201 | (Tongue Post Office)

Durness Village Hall, Sutherland, IV27 4PN
Friday 21 February at 7.30pm
Tickets: 01971 511346

Ullapool Village Hall, 24 Market Street, Ross-shire, IV26 2XE
Saturday 22 February at 7.30pm
Tickets: 01854 612103 | (The Ceilidh Place)

Drumfuin Theatre, Tobermory, Isle of Mull, PA75 6QB
Tuesday 25 February at 8pm
Tickets: 01688 302828 | www.mulltheatre.com

Corran Hall, No 54 The Esplanade, Oban, PA34 5AB
Thursday 27 February at 7.30pm
Tickets: 01631 567333 | www.argyll-bute.gov.uk

Paisley Museum, High Street, Renfrewshire, PA1 2BA
Saturday 1 March at 7.30pm
Tickets: 0300 300 1210 | www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/onlinebooking


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