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Review: theatre

Bloody Trams

Bloody Trams

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Neil Cooper

They may not have been tram related, but the roadworks blocking the bus stop on Lothian Road immediately following this 50-minute "rapid response" to the seven-year carry-on that has been the Edinburgh Trams project spoke volumes about the vagaries of civic planners who seemingly give little thought to the everyday consequences of their decisions.

Put together by director Joe Douglas from a series of interviews with those in Edinburgh affected one way or another by the major city centre upheavals caused by the tram-works, what is effectively an extended dramatised vox pop is performed by actors Jonathan Holt and Nicola Roy, with musical accompaniment by composer and singer David Paul Jones on piano.

In an initially comic but increasingly poignant series of exchanges related by the actors relaying recordings of the interviews relayed to them through mobile phone ear-pieces, we hear from the small business people whose livelihoods were all but destroyed, the cabbies whose routes were disrupted on a daily basis, and the bureaucrats putting the inevitable positive spin on things. Most tellingly, there are those who wonder why the old trams were scrapped in 1950s in the name of progress.

What's revealed is both a real- life soap opera and a piece of history which has touched a collective nerve still raw from the experience.

Bloody Trams has also tapped into the increasingly vital question of how public officials can be held to account by the constituents they are there to serve.

With this in mind, if the Traverse wants to really get its hands dirty with civic muck, the similarly long-running shambles of the Caltongate development should be tackled onstage post-haste.

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