Eilidh MacAskill has the knack of knocking spots off couthy tartanalia, and these tuneful interludes, with their costumed transitions from plaid-out nostalgia to shiny (tin foil) future were more than funny: they succinctly nailed issues of identity in terms of the images, and songs, that continue to define us. Clever, entertaining, but run ended. Will ye no come back again, please?
John O'Groats was the destination Thomas Hobbins was determined to reach when he and his flat-mate Joe got on their bikes in 2009. Land's End is his solo re-telling of what happened on that journey. And it's a slow-burn admission of personal obsessions and fantasies - he casts himself and Joe as Frodo and Sam, because this isn't just a test of physical endurance, it's a test of loyalties. As ever, with Hobbins, there's self-deprecating humour in the mix. But as he pedals furiously on his (static) bike, the comic anecdotes about calamities -there had been no preparations, no training for the 1000-mile trip - begin to reveal a tangle of painful memories and issues of unresolved disappointments that hark back to another, earlier biking adventure when Hobbins was just 12. Personal demons, perhaps. But there is an emotional intensity to Land's End that chimes with the inconsolable, gut-wrenching grief and anger that lodges in us when some-one we relied on won't go along with our best-beloved schemes.
Anger, more than grief, sparks the wit and pithy wisdom in Cuff, a work-in-progress by Deb Jones and Alison Peebles that flies a flag for political protest from a feminist perspective. The reference points - such as Greenham Common, Clause 28, the Suffragettes - have the dust of history swept aside by the energy of the performers and the vivid, involving nature of their devised material. It's short, sharp, hugely entertaining - and more than merits further development.
Runs of these shows ended, but Arches Live continues