Wake Up

Moira Anne McAuslan Craig McCulloch and Petre Dobre
Solar Bear Theatre Company
The Lanternhouse, Cumbernauld

Listing details and ticket info...

Wake Up Credit: Peter Dibdin
Wake Up Credit: Peter Dibdin
Wake Up Credit: Peter Dibdin

This is three for the price of one and, as an offer, you will do worse than take it. Billed as being a new form of theatre—physical—using the facial expressions and bodies of our actors to tell their stories, it’s a night of intrigue and mystery which unravels pretty well.

Each of our directors, Moira Anne McAuslan Craig McCulloch and Petre Dobre, is a graduate of the d/Deaf acting degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. This is a touchstone of where they are professionally as well as an indication of where their presence has been welcomed in Scotland.

We begin with Ties, a very touching portrait of a time when we faced very serious issues in war. Directed by McAuslan, this manages to show quite a soft-hearted portrait of that time, of the love felt between two people in amongst conventions which were shattered by the reality of war. It begins and ends with a funereal feeling that sets the tone and exploits it with some style. It is well lit and, technically, it manages to bring the pathos of the time and the hope of our characters across the footlights and very much into our presence—love the nod to the poster of the time of the fighting woman on the home front. It works very well. That it tells a story we have seen or heard many times before allows it to be more playful with the form and to be entertained from such a seriously new form of theatre is no bad thing at all.

Blackout, directed by Craig McCulloch, has a dark, comic feel from the beginning. It shows us a man of a certain age on a sofa after a bender. Next to him is an empty anorak and it has a dead body within it. Uncertain of what to do, his flatmate arrives, and together they deal with the body. At various points in the piece, the principal protagonist seems to be suffering from an episode, like a flashback which suggests all that he sees is not what it appears. The twist at the end is a clever way of showing us what that all meant. The narrative worked for this; however, it still had a bit of a student lads together feel to it, which was entertaining but could do with a bit more substance to it. Some of the interplay between our actors could have been built upon to give the piece a lot more than just a drunken night out that ended badly.

If we dipped a little in the middle, we ended on a high. Time to Wake Up, directed by Petre Dobre, showed a confident director with a solo piece, self-directed, which had a man back home watching the TV, but trying to avoid news around the climate crisis. But life takes a turn, and he takes us from the apartment he is in, through the very start of life and his responsibilities—hence our own—to wake up and take control of our response to the climate emergency. It was captivating and beautifully poised with plenty to admire about it. Dobre showed confidence in his work, which was augmented by the visuals and the technical video work, which was tremendously well conceived, especially the western. More of that interplay between the video and live theatre is to be welcomed.

And so, an evening which was had a degree of unevenness about it but gave an insight to just how dynamic visual theatre is likely to be. I left wondering why it as that a company who pioneered the d/Deaf acting degree was still the one showcasing the work of their graduates whilst other Scottish companies seem to be immune to the charm of such a dynamic artform. This is an artistic movement within Scottish theatre worthy of serious consideration, whilst all three practitioners, and their casts, would look very comfy in any of the larger and more noticed theatre companies within Scotland—maybe they have had their phone numbers lost in the melee of funding applications. And if they have, they should have them reinstalled, otherwise we are in danger of missing out on something pretty worthy of our country—the investment at the RCS has already been made, after all.

Reviewer: Donald C Stewart

*Some links, including Amazon, Stageplays.com, Bookshop.org, ATG Tickets, LOVEtheatre, BTG Tickets, Ticketmaster, LW Theatres and QuayTickets, are affiliate links for which BTG may earn a small fee at no extra cost to the purchaser.

Are you sure?