Theatre review: Fever Dream: Southside
Dark imaginings from Glasgow South
Fever Dream: Southside is Dominic Hill’s first commission for the Citizens’ Theatre, and the first time that he has directed a play by popular Glasgow playwright Douglas Maxwell (Decky Does a Bronco).
It’s also part of the theatre’s 70th anniversary programming. Set in Govanhill, the theatre's local area, it features a cast of familiar, if larger-than-life, characters and emphasises the Citz’s connection with its neighbourhood even as it celebrates the excitement, and dangers, of living in a city.
Maxwell's satire weaves seemingly disparate plots and elements into a psychedelic tartan nightmare which provides wry commentary on the attempted gentrification of everything, and portrays violence as a seductive virus.
The vignettes centre around a couple: Peter, a child-man in a Joy Division t-shirt and his irascible partner Demi (played by a superb Martin McCormick and Kirsty Stewart), who fail to reconcile life with a new baby.
Alongside them, we meet American evangelist Joe (Martin Donaghy) who is losing both faith and sanity; Kuldev (Umar Malik), a Hutchesons Grammar schoolboy seduced by extreme politics; and grating performance artist Julia (Charlene Boyd). All their lives overlap in unexpected ways one summer.
Hill's sure directorial style is not in question, and Maxwell's dialogue is pithy enough. But occasionally the absurdist vision feels as toothless as Gavin Glover's (admittedly impressive) gravel voiced pterodactyl.
Still, Michael John McCarthy's live soundtrack is superb, reminiscent at times of Thurston Moore and Mogwai; it adds a shimmering post-rock dissonance to the more chilling scenes.
And the production eschews the usual cliches about Glasgow: the gritty hard life of the streets or the merely tritely sentimental celebration of Glasgow determination and resilience. It deserves kudos for exploring a singular oddball Glasgow that is off the map.
Fever Dream: Southside, Citizens Theatre, Glasgow until Sat 9 May.