City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Subway


By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 23 August 2007

5
Show details
Company: 
Vanishing Point
Running time: 
90mins
Production: 
Matthew Lenton (director, deviser), Nicola McCartney (dramaturg), Kai Fischer (set and lighting design), Alasdiar Macrae (musical director)
Performers: 
Sandy Grierson, Rosalind Sydney, with Mohamed Al Khazali (tarbuks), Flamur Lokaj (bass guitar), Festim Fanaj (violin), Adorel Haxia (cello), Astrit Stafai (acoustic guitar+oud), Ferdi Fanaj (drums), Artan Rexhepi (synthesiser)

Here and there, now and then, absolute joy
can be found on the Fringe. It's rare, to be treasured and savoured, carefully
wrapped up in the mind, saved against harsher, bleaker times. 'Subway' is one such wee gem, a piece of
theatre almost impossible to fully describe but also impossible to forget once
experienced. 'Experienced' is the apposite term in this case; a combination of
acting, music and production which strips theatre to its essence and rebuilds
to leave its audience to bounce joyously into the street.

Scruggs leaves Hull for his native Leith
turf, intent on re-bonding with his Dad, only to discover that there ain't no
sunshine any more, only a malfunctioning dystopian nightmare in which DoorCorps
controls all life and movement, especially for the 'underemployed'.

Scruggs re-encounters
Pugsley, and together this ill-assorted duo proceed to investigate the reasons
for the disappearance of Scruggs' Dad, finally tracked to a drowning tower
block on Leith's waterfront.

The place Scruggs returns to is a place of deep
socio-economic division, the doctors from the shiny new hospital more concerned
to drown their own sorrows than attend to uninsured patients. Pugsley's attempt
to raise resistance ends disastrously, and it's down to Scruggs and his enigmatic
father to achieve a strange and fleeting victory over the forces of social
oppression.

In plain prose, the tale might fail to
hold. What does hold the audience is the sheer energy of 'Subway', linked as it
so closely is to the music, provided here by a seven-piece band of Kosovar
musicians.

The driving energy of the band continually
push the play onward, and their abilities make them part of the action rather
than its accompaniment. Sandy Greirson and Rosalind Sydney make the absolute
most of what this piece has to offer them. Musically and theatrically a joy to
behold and listen to, 'Subway' manages to offer a ray of hope against the
spectre of an all-too-believable future of increasingly enforced normative
behaviour.

Catch it before its run ends in Edinburgh and it decamps to the
Lyric, Hammersmith. Fellow reviewer Neil Cooper of 'The Herald' gave this show a glowing review and five stars, with which this reviewer concurs completely.

Time: 14-26 August, times vary (see Traverse and Fringe Programmes for details)

Copyright Bill Dunlop 2007. Published on EdinburghgGuide.com 2007