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Performance review


Neighbourhood Forum

Pearce Institute, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

Performers Gary Gardiner and Murray Wason are in the process of giving voice to everyday problems with bureaucracy. They've already been out and about gathering material in Govan, but in this final part of the Arches Behaviour season, it was the turn of the audience to contribute to the pool of bewilderment, frustration, anger and also fear that Gardiner and Wason have encountered.

We sat in small groups of six and whoever opened the waiting envelope inadvertently found themselves team leader, responsible for telling us what actions we should take and when. All very playful, like following the rules in a game but, somehow, our very collusion - our biddability, if you like - hinted at how readily we fall into line when it comes to form-filling or kow-towing to bureaucratic strictures.

Soon, the stories were coming thick and fast: Gardiner's own childhood memory of family miseries and futile hours spent trying to sort out rent arrears spawned our own sagas of faceless people who controlled - and often mishandled - our finances, our utilities, our lives.

At one point, Gardiner and Wason performed an odd little dance that - like the visceral screams they unleashed - captured that gut-wrenching, hopeless fury we all feel when a simple request, or necessary complaint, vanishes into a void of systematic inaction.

But perhaps the most moving episode came with the screening of old black and white footage of a busy, thriving Govan: throngs of shipyard workers, ballroom dancing classes in the bustling Pearce Institute.

And if Neighbourhood Forum highlighted the way that bureaucratic decisions by distant forces have blighted the area, it also rallied a bright sense of how small steps can claim back self-determination.

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