Paper Nautilus, The

Paper Nautilus

Tramway, Glasgow, Thu 2-Sat 4 Nov, then touring


One can never cease to be amazed by the human capacity for projection. When we imagine creatures from outer space, they invariably seem hell-bent on our colonisation and destruction. This might tell us more about ourselves than any putative ‘visitors’, should, against all reason, they both exist and would be remotely interested in coming here. So it is, as well, that we often imagine the worlds at the bottom of our seas to be fraught with menace and danger.

So it’s refreshing that Cathie Boyd’s outfit, Theatre Cryptic, seem to be engaged in a project intended to expose the tranquil beauties of our sea floors, rather than undersea beasties with big teeth. All this comes from a collaboration between themselves, the contemporary serious music company Paragon Ensemble, and a biotechnology company called LUX. This latter bunch of boffins seem to have uncovered various forms of what’s called ‘living light’, the luminescence created by organisms at the bottom of our deep blues seas. These colours and effects will be incorporated into Pippa Nissen’s design, and the whole shebang will be accompanied by a libretto by poet Jackie Kay with text by the Lebanese writer Etel Adnan. Cryptic have pretty much cornered the market on these kinds of collaborations in Scotland, and if the results have sometimes been mixed, the final product is often interesting. With such pieces as Each and Every Inch to their credit in the past, their work here with Gavin Bryars’ composition seems worth the visit.

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