Fergus Steps Out
Grace Barnes and Clark Crystal
Lung Ha's Theatre Company
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Set in a futuristic Edinburgh, where the Scottish Parliament is just about to be opened, Fergus Steps Out is the latest offering from Lung Ha's Theatre Company, which is dedicated to providing opportunities for performance by adults with learning disabilities.
The play is a simple one, with communication taking place between the cast and audience via both the spoken word and numerous (sometimes tedious) interludes of movement. These interludes are enhanced greatly by Brian Cope's music, which fluctuates between representing the mechanized city and the magical landscape of Arthur's Seat.
James Alison is particularly well-cast as Foreman 1, who continually urges the denizens of the Hub to work harder, and, as the Prime Minister, Alastair MacCulloch cracks numerous one-liners with panache. The play's humour is distinctly local, with jokes made about banishing people to Inverness and Aberdeen, while the Edinburgh of the future bears a lot of striking resemblances to the one of today (though there is, of course, the addition of the moving pavements).
As a theatre company that specializes in creating a place for actors who might not otherwise have the opportunity to be seen on stage, it is possibly most important to note that Lung Ha's production will speak to more people than just those with a personal connection to the performers. Seeing this production makes one ask a lot of questions about theatre and how it is performed; it also has the ability to engage audiences not only in terms of the entertainment provided, but also in that it allows one to examine, in a new light, the roles played by theatre and performance in society today.
"Fergus Steps Out" is playing at the Traverse Theatre, from 13th-16th May, 2004.
Reviewer: Rachel Lynn Brody