PREVIEW STREETDANCE BOUNCE: INSANE IN THE BRAIN Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Sat 24–Mon 26 Oct; macrobert, Stirling, Thu 29–Sat 31 Oct It took the members of Swedish streetdance company Bounce a while to come up with their name – but once you see them in action, you realise it’s the perfect choice. Their energetic re-working of the 1975 film One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest finds the dancers pounding up and down on mattresses, bungee jumping against walls and generally putting their bodies through the wringer. Yet, in over a decade, the seven dancers who founded Bounce have never had a serious injury.
all-seeing Nurse Ratched, the dancers pop, lock, crump and break their way through scenarios that are both witty and poignant. Operating as a collective, Bounce has no leader – just seven members who direct and choreograph everything between them. As producer, is Sigfridsson ever used as an outside eye?
‘Sometimes they’ll ask my opinion, but most of the time they decide everything by themselves,’ she says. ‘Although if they don’t ask, and I believe I have something to say, I’ll tell them – this doesn’t work, I don’t understand it, can you make a change? And they’re all good listeners, they always take on board other people’s opinions.’
‘The original Bouncers have been healthy all the way Having found innovative ways to portray the Jack
for 12 years,’ says the company’s producer Annica Sigfridsson, ‘and fingers crossed that will continue. Of course they have small injuries or their back will hurt, but they’re still out there on stage every night.’ Not only does Insane in the Brain demonstrate the incredible physical technique of the Bounce dancers, it also gives them an opportunity to show off some characterisation. Playing a group of psychiatric patients, bullied by the
Nicholson film through dance (with the odd deviation, such as a hilarious Flashdance pastiche that is worth the ticket price alone), the Bounce team was committed to keeping the story’s sad, but liberating denouement intact. ‘We’ve been asked to change the ending, but we won’t do it,’ says Sigfridsson. ‘Because it would be like making an excuse for the story that’s just been told. So no, take it or leave it, this is how it is.’ (Kelly Apter)
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REVIEW ADAPTATION CONFESSIONS OF A JUSTIFIED SINNER Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, until Sat 7 Nov ●●●●●
Fans of this touchstone of the Scottish literary canon can breathe fairly easy. Mark Thomson’s adaptation of James Hogg’s 1824 novel Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner pulls off the neat trick of being very faithful to the plot of the original while teasing it out to create a fast-moving and entertaining piece of drama. Thomson’s version weaves together
the twin narratives of Hogg’s novel about a young man coerced into murdering his brother by a shape shifting doppelganger. Now, instead of navigating a pair of conflicting accounts, we are led through the story by Robert Wringhim (an attention- grabbing performance by Ryan Fletcher), this subjective point of view rendering the protagonist’s transformation from pious youth to delirious madman all the more unsettling.
At times the production walks a fine
line between reverence and parody: some of the supporting roles are played for out-and-out laughs, which comes as relief from the dark subject matter, but it’s hard to take seriously some of the ecclesiastical rantings of the more fanatical characters. It’s all highly enjoyable and atmospheric, though, with Neil Murray’s rotating set of dark obelisks conspiring with Malcolm Rippeth’s beautiful lighting effects to cast long shadows across the stage. And the scene in which Fletcher’s Wringhim cries out in the night for Iain Robertson’s devilish Gil-Martin is genuinely chilling. (Allan Radcliffe)
PREVIEW ADAPTATION KES King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 27–Sat 31 Oct
Billy Casper shares much more than just a Christian name with stage and screen’s favourite pirouetting Geordie rapscallion: there’s the grim northern hometown, the cruel elder brother with a job down the mines, and the unusual passion with the potential to lift him out of his presumed and predetermined railroad to nowhere.
But, while at the end of Billy Elliot the hero triumphantly leaps onto a London stage, Kes (and its parent novel, Barry Hines’ A Kestrel for a Knave) is from an altogether grittier school of social realism: we leave Billy Casper in almost as forlorn and desperate a state as we found him, his future as uncertain as ever. For Lawrence Till, whose 1991 stage adaptation of the novel comes to the King’s
Theatre this month, the parallels to a more contemporary set of characters are clear: as director and producer of Channel 4’s Shameless, Till tells stories of the modern- day disenfranchised, which – albeit with a heavier dose of humour – mirror that of Kes with their brief glimmers of hope in a world where the morality of the characters is frequently compromised by the bare need resulting from deprivation and injustice. In a move perhaps comparable with the transcendence hinted at by Shameless’s surreal poetic interludes, this production uses dance and movement to highlight those moments where it could go either way: the moments when Billy faces a decision, or in the rare seconds of sheer delight – all of which Till terms the ‘tilting points’, when that train to nowhere threatens to come off the tracks. (Laura Ennor)
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84 THE LIST 22 Oct–5 Nov 2009