Sense: Nose and Skin, Storytelling Centre, Review
This year marks the Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival’s 21st birthday and to celebrate the programme offers the largest ever selection of Scottish companies at the Festival. These are returning Scottish companies showcasing world class work that has toured nationally and internationally as well as emerging Scottish companies presenting challenging theatre for children and young people. The international programme is represented by companies from Germany, France, Netherlands and Belgium. The Festival runs from Monday 10 May to Sunday 16 May 2010 before touring.
Sense is Frozen Charlotte’s first production for an older audience and comprises 5 plays aimed at the top age range, that is 14 plus years. Described as “Interlinked but independent...” each piece can be viewed on their own or as a continuum. They are performed in 2 instalments, Nose and Skin and Eyes, Ears and Tongue. Two episodes have been seen in 2009 as a rehearsed reading in the Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival but this is its full Scottish premiere.
The theme in Nose and Skin boils down to the age old story of the eternal triangle. As I only saw the first 2 plays, I am unsure if this particular baton is passed on through Eyes, Ears and Tongue. The idea of focussing on the five senses as vehicles for complex teenage experiences is fascinating and open to great possibilities.
Nose started off with the image on a back screen of the ‘white ribbon’ of cigarette smoke and two male characters, Karl and Tommi, one alive and one dead. Maybe I took too literal a reading of that opening but I expected perhaps a dialogue on the perils of the evil weed. Instead, it moved very quickly from that to the dynamics and sexual jealousies between the young men, the tragic culmination of which being rather played down and its drama lost.
Skin has a character, Jasmin, only spoken of in the first piece with the anarchic and possibly anorexic Jule who practices what I can only describe as toothpick acupuncture and whose very clothes, Batik blouses, are tattooed like another skin. She cruelly offers Jasmin, an emphysema sufferer, a drag on a fag described as ‘almost a kiss’.
These plays cover disturbing subject matter through luscious language and beautiful narration with surprising lines like ‘sweet as blood, sour as bread’ and describing the warmth from a lover’s nose being ‘like a backward nosebleed’. They enter uncomfortable realms with little sense of the consequences of extreme actions. Their passivity gave credence to the likes of self-harm and murder that left a feeling of ill ease. In keeping with the piece’s title, it is full of sensuous language but feels more like a story than a play.
It is significant that some of the work had a previous life as rehearsed readings and it may be that these stark plays would work better on radio as there were neither props nor costume apart from a Batik blouse.
Nose and Skin Saturday 15 May 16.00
Eyes, Ears and Tongue Friday 14 May 10.30, Saturday 15 May 19.00