Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 13 - Sat 14 Apr
The arrival of buccaneering Aussie practitioner Clark Crystal has reinvigorated Lung Ha’s, Scotland’s leading company for people with learning disabilities, with a creative and collaborative spirit that many a more auspicious company could learn from. In this new piece, Crystal has brought the Paragon Ensemble into the action, using live modern music with folky overtones to good effect.
The story, devised with the company, is a relevant and contemporary one, mounted in the theatrical spirit of a colourful allegory. In it, a writer is trapped in a wheeled circus cage, quietly producing the story of the significantly named Mr Murdoch (Alistair MacCulloch), a man with global ambitions willing to mistreat his many staff in order to fulfil them. That he produces nothing but “the cheesiest cheese” adds to the joke. But what goes around comes around, and when Murdoch unfairly sacks one of his workers (Thomas Drysdale), the disgruntled employee returns as a strolling player, and in the course of his company’s new production for the workers gets his own back and finds true love.
Puppetry, Elizabethan Masque and Jessica Worrall’s lavish costumes add nicely to the spectacle, which involves over 30 people on stage at once. Themes condemning greed, selfish individualism and false hierarchies are to the fore, but there’s plenty of comedy along the way. If the ending gets a little cloudy, it’s well worth the watch to see Murdoch’s nasty comic comeuppance alone.