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Fringe Theatre: Reviews

Lands of Glass

Lands of Glass

Summerhall

PERFECTLY suited to one of the old Dick Vet's little lecture theatres, Unfolding Theatre's delightful musical adaptation of the novel by Alessandro Baricco unpacks the story from a number of bespoke plywood cabinets containing custom-made glass percussion instruments.

It is a tale of a glassworks, its proprietor, his wife, and his workers and ambitions. Director Annie Rigby's production, in association with Northern Stage, is itself a sparkling piece of storytelling with beautiful performances, particularly from Beccy Owen as the story's narrator and Tom Walton and Hannah Boyde as the central couple (as well as other roles).

But what makes the show really special is the music. Jazz drummer Tom Bancroft has his small kit centre stage and supplies some lovely sound effects as well as the rhythm of the show. His score is played on the instruments that appear from those cabinets: a glass harmonica, glass glockenspiel and xylophone and glass tubular bells. The entire cast of five are adept at playing them, although Brendan Murphy is especially skilled, and the compositions are as skilled as we have come to expect from Bancroft. A lovely ensemble piece of quite unique vision and execution.

Until August 24

Bloom

Underbelly

NEW, young Glasgow company Vocal Point is Abraham Parker and Robert Scobie, whose version of verbatim theatre is culled from their time spent helping the homeless at Glasgow City Mission,

Theirs is the sort of ­theatre of words that tells you what it is doing and then does it, its emotional impact sneaking into your subconscious by stealth through what at first seems like straight descriptive narrative.

The pair set the scene well,placing themselves as the middle-class incomers to the underside of a city so successfully re-marketed this summer, before taking on the characters of two of the men they met on their first visit to the shelter - and, we learn, have not been seen there since.

Parker's character is a Californian who has ended up in Glasgow via Dublin and spells in prison for dealing drugs, his decline measured out from being a joint-toking beach bum to a smack addict and losing a couple of fortunes along the way in a tale that has an almost mythic quality. Scobie is more genial, his character an East End working-class lad whose life falls apart after the older brother he idolises is killed.

With a live soundscape by James Oglethorpe and Greig Dickson and video by Josh Major, there is a little more to it than that, but it is the performances of Parker and Scobie that make the piece compelling.

Until August 24

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