Tiger

Colin Bramwell
Teuchter Company in association with CaroleW Productions
Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle

Colin Bramwell and Isabel Stott

Tiger plays at Alphabetti in tandem with Leyla Josephine’s Hopeless. Performed on the same night, with an interval of 30 minutes between, they are nonetheless entirely separate productions, although they do have two things in common: they are part of CaroleW Productions’ Our Friends from Further North (i.e. Scottish) season and both have their roots in the spoken word tradition.

According to writer and performer Colin Bramwell, Tiger is also inspired by computer games, David Lynch movies and Highland folk tales. It is performed by Isabel Stott and Bramwell himself plays everyone else. It’s also interactive, in that at a number of points throughout the show the audience is asked for its opinion and that opinion, we are told, sets the direction in which the play goes. No two performances, they tell us, are ever alike. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure that this added anything to the piece, although it did provide the audience with a sense of involvement and even a little amusement at times.

It is, in some senses, a voyage of self-discovery, a trip through the past of the central character, Kathy Pearce, at a time of her life—she has just returned home to a small Highland village after finishing university—when she is not sure what her direction should be. Fuelled by uncertainty (and a certain amount of LSD), she is drawn into the forest, experiencing a kaleidoscope of memories, situations and encounters with a wide variety of people, from her father to a girl with whom she falls in love, and even a tiger and tiger-hunters.

The trip through her past has the feel of another kind of trip, the LSD kind, with its discontinuities, mergings, appearances and disappearances.

There’s a third contributor to this expedition into Kathy’s mind, the digital music / soundtrack by Daniel McGurty which is played live by him, completely visible to the audience at the side of the stage, almost (you might say) another character. Sometimes a sound of the real world, sometimes abstract sound, sometimes recognisably music, it all adds to the atmosphere created by the mixture of poetry, soliloquy and conversation.

I came away, I confess, rather unsure. Was there—could there be—any resolution? Could Kathy find her direction? We certainly saw—even, to an extent, shared—her troubles but I for one couldn’t see light at the end of this particular tunnel. Having said that, it was certainly intriguing and involving. And is it really a play’s job find answers? Is it not enough to pose the question? After all, it’s been a very long time since happy endings were de rigueur in theatre!

Reviewer: Peter Lathan