Clare Duffy & Pierre Yves Lemieux
Stellar Quines and Imago Theatre
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Lisa Gardner, Dominique Leduc, Magalie Lépine-Blondeau, Selina Boyack in ANA Credit: Tristan Brand

This collaboration between Scottish theatre group Stella Quines and Québec based Imago Theatre is a definitive bilingual production, which certainly felt like half in English half in French, even with the surtitles though it still left you in the dark about what it was about. There were some good performances but the constantly changing characters and actors rather lost the focus of the piece.

Reminiscent of two relatively recent productions at the Traverse, The Wheel by Zinnie Harris and Orlando adapted by Darryl Pickney from Virginia Woolf, this play was about a regenerating female spirit existing over many centuries. Some of them were interesting creations Catherine Bégin's homeless artist, but others were annoying like the little girl assisting Darwin or the stereotypical hippie.

The constant changing between the six actors playing Ana meant the play lacked the force of The Wheel or Orlando, with their strong female leads and more linear narratives. The ever-changing Ana also gave the only male actor (Alain Goulem) an oddly prominent role for a female focused performance. In fact the male ringmaster part was easily the juiciest and most interesting, getting to play Darwin, Freud and other historical characters.

Making a play bilingual does require some justification and it was perhaps to mirror the way that Ana evolved over the ages by continually splitting into two people. The splitting idea though did not seem strong throughout and more could have been made of it. More could also have been made of language with a distinct lack of any Scots or Gaelic despite some of the action taking place on Skye.

A somewhat blurred history of transgenerational figure that was not nearly satisfying enough and lacked a certain je ne sais quoi.

Reviewer: Seth Ewin

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