A Soldier’s Tale
Tron, Glasgow, Fri 16–Sat 17 Nov
This article is from 2007.
Among what we rather forbiddingly call ‘serious’ or ‘classical’ music composers, perhaps the most frequently performed over the last century, at least in terms of theatre rather than opera, is Stravinsky. The music itself seemed to have the resourceful theatricality of the stage about it, so it’s no surprise that we’ve heard a good deal of his music outside the strict confines of opera or dance. At the Tron, the most recent of many examples occurs in this piece, with text by CF Ramuz, a version of the Faust myth set during, and written shortly after, the First World War.
But this version of the Faust myth transposed to the trenches sees an unusual departure from the usual form, for instead of using an actor to portray the soldier, miming with violin, this piece, which originated at the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, uses its violinist as the actor. And in Anthony Marwood, we see an accomplished exponent of both crafts. ‘War is a constant in it, the psychological effect of it in particular,’Marwood explains. ‘He’s the product of war, he’s been altered and has various burning needs created by the war. It’s a question of individual character and the effect that environment has on the development of someone.’
The Faust myth has of course been manifested endlessly in drama, but the character presented here seems quite different from the usual driven and ambitious version of the figure, perhaps because of the deadly circumstances in which he finds himself. ‘I think the soldier is a very sympathetic character,’ says Marwood. ‘There are things that everyone will identify with in him, although each audience member, I think, will experience it in different ways.’