Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Lands – Summerhall, Edinburgh

[seen 08/08/17]

Seen the day after Palmyra, it’s difficult to shake off the feeling that, a) Lands is the ideal counterpart to Palmyra, b) they compliment each other beautifully, c) while Palmyra *may* explore the macro, external, “bigger picture” of geopolitics, *maybe* Lands explores the micro, internal, psychological landscape; the first half of Blasted to Palmyra’s second half of Blasted, if you like. I couch all this in “maybe”s, because I reckon – like Palmyra Lands functions on so many levels at once, that it would be just as possible to read it as an exploration of, say, the rise to power of Donald Trump, as it is to accept it at something closer to face value...

What that face value is is two women (Leah Brotherhead and Sophie Steer) and their relationship. Because they’re on a nearly-empty stage they could be anywhere. For some reason, I imagined them into a pretty normal flatshare arrangement – either as friends or partners. But they could just be on that stage (same as Bert and Nasi). Leah has done one jigsaw puzzle and is doing another. She is describing each piece of the puzzle in turn into her iPhone for “documentation.” Sophie, on the other hand, is bouncing up and down on a trampoline. Eventually, it becomes clear that she can’t stop this. Rapidly, “bouncing on a trampoline” goes from being bouncing on a trampoline to anything from drug or alcohol addiction, to mental illness, to physical illness, or even just another person’s irritating habits or quirks that they can’t or won’t give up. Similarly, Leah is maybe *a bit too invested* in her work with jigsaw puzzles.

The way that the piece unfolds (credits: directed and devised by Jasmine Woodcock-Stewart, co-devised by cast, additional devising by Richard Perryman and Nasi Voutsas) is, by turns incisive, tender, tough and heartbreaking. I mean, it really is a lovely, beautifully made show. Yes, it takes a couple of unexpected turns, one or two of which might occasionally seem to make it a bit too on-the-nose for a few moments, but then it somehow seems to turn again, shift our sympathies some more, and return to the sort of “compassionate Beckett”(?) thing that seems to form its core.

Definitely enormously recommended.

Until 20th August. 12.00pm. 1hr. £10 (£8)

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