A Play, A Pie & A Pint review: The Shattered Head by Graham Eatough

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Òran Mór and Traverse Theatre
Graham Eatough (director), Andy Dempsey (stage manager), Patrick and Rita McGurn (design), Susannah Armitage (associate producer), David MacLennan (producer),Paddy Cunneen (sound designer), Maggie Rose ( dramaturg), Tom Birch (production assistant)Andrew Cowan, David Gleeson, Gary Wilson, Ross Kirkland (technicians)
Michael MacKenzie (Paolozzi), Louise Ludgate (Care Assistant/Student/Patron/Cousin), Ian Bustard (Young Paolozzi/chef)
Running time

Shattered Head is the title of a piece of sculpture made by Scots Italian artist, Eduardo Paolozzi in 1956. This short play shows the acclaimed artist in the last years of his life when he is confined to a wheelchair and the inside of his own head has been shattered after his stroke in 2001.

Against a veiled background of his early Bunk collages, made up of images of U.S. 1950s feminine glamour, muscly he- men, giant Coca-Cola bottles and ice creams, his memories, thoughts, current TV watching and flash backs are brought to life in vivacious cameos by rest of the cast.

The play touches on issues of intellectual property and the double-edged sword of success in the art world, but mostly about Paolozzi’ s coming to terms in age with the loss of an uncle, his father and grandfather who were drowned when they were internees during World War II. 

His dichotomy as the son of immigrants of whether to revere the past or move on;  whether to be part of the new community or cling to the old is eventually resolved in his own way as his one word “No”, gradually moves to a “Yes”.

Paolozzi is played movingly and convincingly by Michael MacKenzie who dominates the stage. He has little to say but his presence is strong, as I suppose Paolozzi’s would have been. The first breakthrough is shown through his hands, where his talent lay, and with which he turns a ball of clay to a significant trademark cog.

Louise Ludgate deserves a special mention for morphing between her four diverse characters so smoothly.  Though primarily playing the Young Paolozzi, Ian Bustard in the role of the Italian chef was telling as it showed the subtle game of blending in while staying who you are being played. 

Thoughtful and entertaining theatre - Bravo!

The ticket price of £10 includes a pie and a pint or glass of wine or soft drink. Show runs from Tuesday, 9 to Saturday, 13 March and starts at 1pm. The season continues until 3 April with a new play each week.