The best upcoming theatre in Scotland for Autumn 2013
Forced Entertainment, Every House Has A Door, Fail Better and The Lion King
This article is from 2013.
The aftermath of the Edinburgh Festival can be depressing for theatre: August doesn't just offer large numbers of performers, it tends to feature companies who don't set foot in Scotland for the rest of the year. While the country does have a healthy theatre community, it’s the arrival of international acts that both sets its work in context and can inspire diverse creativity.
Having said that, it is a relief to see both Forced Entertainment and Every House Has a Door from Lin Hixson and Matthew Goulish arriving at Tramway this autumn. Forced Entertainment, who are presenting two shows (The Coming Storm and Tomorrow's Parties, Tramway, Glasgow Thu 10 & Fri 11 Oct), and Hixson and Goulish (formerly of American experimental theatre-makers Goat Island) are familiar faces at Tramway. Their restless imaginations challenged notions of what performance ought to be like without ever disappearing into the formless, inaccessible nonsense that often prevents experimental art from appealing to anyone other than devotees.
Every House Has A Door (Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 22 & Sat 23 Nov) is especially exciting: when Goat Island were in full flight, they could seamlessly weave together comedy, choreography that owed more to folk than ballet, philosophical ideas and an iconoclastic attitude towards conventional values into an entertaining and thought-provoking blast of energy. Hixson and Goulish have enlisted a rock band, Joan of Arc, a stage-set full of triggered effects and an archive of American court transcripts to play about with notions of law, truth and the mayhem of existence.
Both Forced Entertainment and Goat Island are unashamedly experimental. That they deal with such recognisable subjects, and through the talent of their performers, makes them as easy to enjoy as more populist fare. Yet over in Edinburgh, the arrival of The Lion King (Playhouse, Fri 11 Oct—Sat 18 Jan) is a safe bet with the well-known tunes and familiar moral. However, when this musical first appeared, adapted from the Disney movie, it had a surprisingly interesting attitude towards contemporary dance and made much of the rising art of puppetry.
The Fringe is packed full of puppetry that is not just for children – as Edinburgh's Manipulate Festival has made clear. But The Lion King is a rare example of a show which remembers that all ages need not mean childish and, as a spectacular – and perhaps a break from the seriousness of much theatre – is unexpectedly charming.
The dazzling diversity of the programmes at the Tron and Traverse both pose intriguing questions about the venues’ identity and make it very difficult to pick out a single work that represents the season. The return of Translunar Paradise to Edinburgh is a reminder of how Theatre Ad Infinitum first wooed the Fringe with their visual, passionate performance, while Fail Better take a weekend to attack the patriarchy at the Tron.
This season does have an emphasis on repeats: The National Theatre of Scotland is bringing back the Macbeth sequel, Dunsinane and Paul Bright’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner (this time at Summerhall). There is, however, one sneaky event that crosses all manner of arts: at the Brunswick Hotel, the 85A Collective are leading the annual Get a Room event. Performances are slipped into the masquerade ball theme, including intimate pieces from Glasgow’s Louna and a dance with Mr Death.