THE WHEEL To 28 August.


by Zinnie Harris.

Traverse Theatre (Traverse 1) Cambridge Street EH1 2ED To 28 August 2011.
10am 17, 21, 26 Aug.
1pm 18, 23, 27 Aug.
66.15pm 19, 24, 28 Aug.
8.45pm 16, 20, 25 Aug.
Runs 1hr 45min No interval.

TICKETS: 0131 228 1404.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 8 August

Ambitious, but not fully-achieved.
In 1880s rural Spain, preparing two sisters prepare for a marriage when in walks a soldier, demanding food and drink. Then he calls his comrades. Next thing they know, their barn is being requisitioned, and someone – as it the way with armies – gets arrested and deported.

Life throws up its surprises, especially in times of turmoil. And as a child’s left fatherless, Beatriz determines her priorities have changed – even if it were any longer possible, she couldn’t celebrate a wedding while leaving a child fatherless. So she tramps off with the son to try and find the father.

So far, so sort-of Caucasian Chalk Circleish. But as Beatriz goes further afield, the impact on the boy – as on other children encountered – grows. What sorts of nightmare, what sense of loss, is implanted in the thoughts and feelings of young people who grow amid such events?

Then again, where, and when, do their travels take them? Spain and the later 19th-century seem to disappear. Beatriz and boy move into the area of general statement. While this can give a bigger picture, it also makes more demands on a playwright, and some way before the end it seems Zinnie Harris is more interested in laying out her ideas than in testing them by circumstance. If one scene won’t make the point, then move to another.

Brecht and his collaborators knew how to do this within a structure that created tension between individual incident and overall stratagem. For all the boldness of Harris’s scenes, in Vicky Featherstone’s confident production, where Catherine Walsh is central in a strong cast, the play’s impact is more to remind of other plays by Brecht, or in his epic tradition, than to find a space to make its own identity felt.

Perhaps the problem is that the play tries to do too much; maybe a more focused account of the impact of strife and an unsettled society on young people could have been less ambitious but made more of a point. Here, there are piercing moments – as when things threaten to recur – but uninvolving quarters of an hour.

Girl: Rebecca Benson.
Blandine/Woman/Thi: Elizabeth Chan.
Tomas/Jacques/Teenage Boy: Ryan Fletcher.
Madame/Hanna: Meg Fraser.
Rossignol: Paul Thomas Hickey.
Juan/Pierre/Xuan: Orion Lee.
Colline/Glennister: Stephen McCole.
Pedro/Farshad: Mark Monero.
Beatriz: Catherine Walsh.
Rosa: Olga Wehrly.
Sargwento/Hancock: Leo Wringer.
Moreno/Jozka/Clement: Benny Young.
Boy: Cameron Ggallagher/Zak McCullough.
Little Girl: Stephanie Irwin/Lula Molleson.

Director: Vicky Featherstone.
Designer/Costume: Merle Hensel.
Lighting: Natasha Chivers.
Sound/Composer: Nick Powell.
Movement: Christine Devaney.
Effects designer: Jamie Harrison.
Assistant director: Phil McCormack.

2011-08-22 15:14:49

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