Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Beneath You Spider Girls Are Everywhere!

Kathy McKean
Birds of Paradise
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, and touring
(2007)

Production photo

It is not just blue and red clad super-heroes with 'spidey webs' shooting from their veins that can scale the outer wall of a twenty floor apartment block school girls can manage just as well. Kathy McKean's Beneath You Spider Girls Are Everywhere! is a far more realistic portrayal of life above the ground and the inspiration behind it did not come from childhood comics.

Based on a news item heard on the radio, the play is inspired by a group of real life women. A group of teenage girls in Chile, one of whom was pregnant, scaled the outside of buildings in order to break into apartments. McKean extends this story, offering the audience a detailed glimpse into the girls' private lives and relationships.

Birds of Paradise theatre company has been producing plays and touring throughout Scotland for twelve years. They aim to produce performances which are accessible to all and to bring theatre to those who have difficulty experiencing live performances because of disability or geographical isolation. Beneath You Spider Girls Are Everywhere! features an electronic screen which captions the words as they are spoken or sung on stage and are accompanied by an audio programme to allow both the visually and hearing impaired to enjoy the performance.

Kathy McKean is also the recipient of SAC Writers' bursaries and an Arts and Humanities Research Council doctoral research award.

The play introduces a gang of thieves who commit all their crimes above ground level. It is only when they are caught by a private investigator that they are forced to look inside themselves and confront the realities which they have avoided in the sky.

A court trial sweeps the story forward plunging from relaxed jostling to the harshness of prison and the struggles within the self which lead people to commit crimes. Darker questions are raised about the suitability of a legal system that judges on the nature of the crime rather than the nature of the perpetrator. Friendships are scrutinised and even the private investigator begins to re-assess his values.

The cast of five deliver fantastic performances leaving you in need of a big deep breath as the lights fade to black. Itxaso Moreno in her leading role as Rebecca Dale delivers a truly memorable performance. Her partners in crime, Claire Cunningham as Tiffany Love and Julie Heather as Anna Spencer, hoist you up on to the side of the building and don't put you down until the stage is empty.

The lighting of the show also deserves a special mention. Through simple spotlights I was transported from ground to sky, designer clothes shops to dingy prison cells. The most impressive shadows were cast, projecting the actors onto buildings and scaling up the outer walls. Between the acting and the lighting, a simple set was used to the best imaginative potential.

This is an energetic and engaging performance. The audience is held captivated and sucked into an emotional vacuum in which there is a struggle to balance the actions which lead to crime and the human element which delves much further into the tortured mind of a young girl. This short play not only questions the haunting experiences that can lead to crime but also explores the relationships and compassion that exist or are lacking in society. The audience is begged to look beyond the label of 'criminal' and see the person they are really looking at. This play is an hour incredibly well spent.

Until 29th September then touring to The Aros Centre (Portree), Woodend Barn (Banchory), Traverse Theatre (Edinburgh), Ballachulish Village Hall (Ballachulish), Upper Springland Theatre (Perth), East Kilbride Arts Centre (East Kilbride), Spectrum Centre Theatre (Inverness), Memorial Hall (Hopeman), Lemon Tree (Aberdeen), St Brigid's College (Callan, Co Kilkenny, Ireland), Taynuilt Village Hall (Taynuilt), Lochside Theatre (Castle Douglas), Paisley Arts Centre (Paisley)

Reviewer: Alison Burns