Tron Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 23 Feb, then touring
It sometimes takes a brush with death to remind people of the truly important things in life, the shock instantly cutting through the meaningless static that surrounds us. Evoking memories of grief, providing an escape or a sense of reason for those struggling to come to terms with loss, music has the ability to affect our senses, to sadden us, leave us breathless, or to inspire meaning in even the most hopeless of circumstances.
Dan Rebellato’s new play focuses on recently widowed Julia (Jeni Draper), who discovers a compilation tape left behind by her husband. Convinced that the tape contains a message from beyond the grave, Julia turns to her husband’s best friend, and music expert, Martin (Tom Thomasson), to uncover the truth.
Suspect Culture and Graeae easily find harmony in the theme of communication, so it’s no surprise that music should become a transcendental tool in their co-production. With an eclectic soundtrack that provides a thumping heart, directors Graham Eatough and Jenny Sealey create a musical landscape around the loss of a loved one. The physicality of Suspect Culture’s work instinctively complements Graeae’s signing as a language of performance, not just of communication. Ian Scott’s simple three-stage design, which protrudes like splayed fingers into a pool of reflective static, fittingly evokes an atmosphere of reminiscing over a drink with an old friend in a trendy bar. Tom Thomasson heads an inspiring cast, providing moments of hearty humour interspersed with worthy musical trivia. Judged by its own ‘compilation-tape-rules’ the production is elevated to a quasi-religious experience as Rufus Wainwright’s epic Agnus Dei evanesces, reminding us, perhaps, to focus on the music of life, disregarding the static that can so easily cling to us.