City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Women in Theatre Scotland, Traverse Theatre, Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 09 March 2014

Show Details
Traverse Theatre
Alison Peebles, Jenna Watt and Kate Nelson (directors), Jules Horne, Nicola McCartney, Clare Duffy, Catherine Grosvenor, Zinnie Harris, Isabel Wright, Stef Smith (playwrights), George Tarbuck, Ruiraidh Nelson and David Julia (technical support)
Alison Peebles, Isabella Jarrett, Nicola Jo Cully, Kirtsy McDuff, Mark Toddie, Kim Allan, Sarah-Louise Cairney, Charlotte Baker, Lara Jo Bazzu, Joanne Bell, Holly Enston, Emma Hindle, Susan Kelly, Vanda de Luca, Rachel Keiller, Marjam Sanjoori, Meghan Tyler, Laura Woolf (performers)

As part of the celebrations of International Women’s Day, the Traverse was host to a series of short staged readings written by seven contemporary female writers. The seven short script-read pieces were as diverse as they were stimulating and entertaining.

As a taster to the radical performance project, Encounters, facilitated by Jenna Watt, the 13 actors stood on the steps leading to Traverse 2 with placards containing slurs like ‘bitchy pal’ and ‘slut’ concealing the actors’ faces. Audience members were randomly handed tiny cards bearing actual text from a casting call like ‘Can you act? Are you thin? Yes? Then apply!’

First up was a fresh, subverted take on the Cinderella tale that is based on poet Vicki Feaver’s Book of Blood, and written by Jules Horne. The glorious language was delivered magnificently by Nicola Jo Cully who gave life to this bruised and abused domestic slave who was a million miles from a sanitized slipper.

Nicola McCartney’s two hander, Fever, dealt with the clash of class; of poverty and privilege but the finding of ultimate reconciliation and redemption after violence. The term ‘Peelers’ for ‘polis’ sat ill in a Scottish actors mouth in this otherwise smart interweaving of opposing perceptions. Alison Peebles and Mark Toddie are the mother and son duo in Clare Duffy’s Life in the Theatre where the boy’s ambition to be an actor is met with clever comic incredulity. Catherine Grosvenor takes us on a visit to a pregnancy clinic in her excellent piece Foetal Position to Sexism that deals hilariously with gender issues and particularly exposure to sexism in womb with a fine self –referential twist.

A brilliant piece of physical theatre from the ten of the Encounters performers took this interesting evening to its second interval. Each young woman walks on to the stage one at a time, then in unison the ten perform the mime of mechanical dolls that is a mix of strength and submission before each walks off one at a time. This marvelously choreographed piece was both challenging and affecting.

During this interval, the performance project Encounters that was created with artist Jenna Watt was delivered. It was created after a day’s reflection on sexism and inequality and inspired by campaigns like No More Page Three, The Everyday Sexism blog, Casting Wall Woes tumlr and general negative media representation of women. Three actors read these found pieces on the stage of the Traverse Bar.

In the second half, Nicola Jo Cully gave another outstanding performance in Zinnie Harris’s Nightingale & Chase when she plays a woman out on the street after having been battered by her man on her first day out of prison. Isabel Wright’s dialogue between a mother and daughter in Weight of Love is heavy enough with emotion for it to have been two lovers talking. And finally Stef Smith’s Second Thought gave a variety of diverse and apparently random statements to four shifting voices that felt both felt didactic yet powerful.

Leaving the auditorium, audience members were given a tiny brown envelope that contained a piece origami with a message written inside. This was an evening of innovative ideas that augur well for Scottish theatre and for women.

Saturday 8 March only 7.30pm

Age Recommendation: 14+