City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Keep the Cross High, manipulate Festival, Review


By Irene Brown - Posted on 01 February 2016

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Keep the Cross High.jpeg
Show Details
Venue: 
Traverse Theatre
Production: 
Francesca Caprioli (writer)
Performers: 
Laura Wooff, Eleanora Pace
Running time: 
40mins

manipulate Festival is now in its 9th year and its regular successful Snapshots sessions are designed to nurture the creation of work from both Scottish artists and from artists based in Scotland.

Part of this year’s Snapshots sessions is a 40-minute excerpt from a new play that was developed in Rome and entitled Keep the Cross High from Accademia Silvio D’Arnico graduate Francesca Caprioli. It is performed by Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduate Laura Wooff with Italian actress Eleanora Pace, so arrives with gold plated credentials.

However, this interpretation of the life, beliefs and trial of Jeanne d’Arc from an all-female cast and female writer sadly doesn’t live up to its high aims of “[providing] a strong platform for the exploration of and the debate about fundamental political preconceptions”. Instead it feels disjointed and very much like a work-in-progress.

With only some piles of papers as props and a couple of simple costume changes, the two actors give committed and energetic performances. They interchange the roles of Jeanne over the performance but this only creates confusion. While the aim of the production to show that “practises are as potent today as they ever have been” is laudable, the horror of a young woman being put to death at the stake does not come across, and it leaves one unaffected rather than being ripped apart like the paper that is torn to sound like crackling flames.

It is performed in a mix of English, Italian and signing but with no allowances made for any non-signers or non-Italian speakers, making it feel indulgent and esoteric. The sense of the audience being a mere bit player is evident in the judges’ scene when any dialogue is virtually drowned out by a noisy soundscape.

Bookended by an intriguing title and the finale of the haunting Leonard Cohen song Joan of Arc, the 40 minutes in between fails to either inspire, entice or move.

age recommend 14+ 01 February 6.05pm