by David Harrower.
Traverse Theatre (Traverse 1) 10 Cambridge Street EH1 2ED To 25 August 2013.
10am 20, 25 Aug.
12.45pm 21 Aug.
3.15pm 18, 22 Aug.
6pm 23 Aug.
9pm 24 Aug.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
TICKETS: 0131 228 1404.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 11 August.
Saints and sinners in a particular urban mix.
In its shadowy visibility before the performance, the brick-walled room of Anthony Lamble’s set for David Harrower’s new play might be a neo-urban chic basement, even part of an old Italian palazzo; ‘Ciara’, which signifies ‘dark’ in Gaelic languages, becomes ‘white’ in Italian. Certainly as Blythe Duff carefully poses herself and her dress before the lights go up, there’s a sense of deliberate self-presentation.
The place turns-out a newly-discovered Glasgow space ripe for re-creation as bijou, arty and high-cost. For the person, Ciara’s composure undergoes a gradual shift as she recounts her background. Clothes and movement acquire an awkward, lumpy aspect, and from composure sitting on a chair she ends reclined on a mattress.
For, as we realise – as she realises – there’s something other to Ciara than first met ear or eye. Behind the art and galleries filling her life, providing her entrée into one Glasgow world, and the saintly associations lying behind her name, stands a force and wealth originating with a part of the city where ‘Glasgow Boys’ has never meant an art movement.
Then there’s the chance of birth. Had Ciara, brought up to be a lady, been her brother Ciaran her life would have been very different. He has grown up in their family’s more violent, volatile world, with everything their father’s concealed from his daughter.
And worse, for Ciaran’s dash into the criminal world has pushed the family into drug-dealing, with a new viciousness that sits like a counterpoint to the great female body Ciara describes lying above the city’s buildings in a painting by one of her protégées.
Harrower, whose plays have explored outlying areas of Scotland, brings close perception to its largest city, with a duality of identity that could make Ciara’s self and family examination a metaphor for the city overall considering its self-perceptions and self-made images.
In Traverse Director Orla O’Loughlin’s production Blythe Duff’s carefully-charted journey through the experiences and speculations that have clustered in Ciara’s mind gives the specific humanity, and moments of humour, such a script needs, helping disguise what might otherwise have seemed too pre-planned a thematic excursion.
Ciara: Blythe Duff.
Director: Orla O’Loughlin.
Designer: Anthony Lamble.
Lighting: Philip Gladwell.
Sound/Composer: Daniel Padden.