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Review: Theatre

Festen

Festen

Tron, Glasgow

Keith Bruce

THERE have been a few fine shows to enjoy in the Tron's upstairs Changing House studio recently, but none has used the space as effectively as this production of David Eldridge's ten-year-old Almeida stage adaptation of Thomas Vinterberg's Danish Dogme-rules film.

Much of the spirit of those strictures survives in the heightened naturalism directors Maggie Kinloch and John Kazek require of their fourteen-strong cast, assembled around the dinner (and later breakfast) table to celebrate the 60th birthday of patriarch Helge (Tarjei Westby), and give the skeletons in the family closet a thorough excavation. Cara Roxburgh's clever design sets the small audience at cabaret-style tables around the action to imply complicity and the revelations explode in the intimacy of the setting in what would be a stunning ensemble performance from a professional company, let alone one where first and second years augment their senior colleagues and Thursday's child actor (Daisy Murray) was every bit as focused as her student stage-mates.

Helge's offspring, Christian (Cameron Crighton), Michael (Sammy Hayman) and Helene (Laura Wooff) make the most of the meatiest roles, and there are also strong performances from Joanne Thomson, as their mother Else, and Stefan Trout as majordomo Helmut, ostensibly to emcee of the evening, but also the spokesman for a script that is only too conscious of its power as a piece of theatre.

This narrative of a family that defines "dysfunctional" echoes the audience experience of soaps and dramas from Eastenders to Upstairs Downstairs, but forces you to think about what you are watching - and the truly brilliant thing about this staging is that every member of the company has clearly taken that onboard.

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