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Reviews: Fringe Theatre

Spine

CALL TO ARMS: A teenager learns about old-fashioned socialist values from her elderly housemate in this play responding to austerity culture.
CALL TO ARMS: A teenager learns about old-fashioned socialist values from her elderly housemate in this play responding to austerity culture.

Spine

Underbelly

WHEN teenaged Amy turns up on the doorstep of an old woman with the promise of a room, she opens up the door into a brand new world.

Amy may be chock-full of attitude, but the old woman is no pushover, as she reveals to Amy her own attitude founded on old-time socialism.

This is something she put into practice following the enforced closure of her local library, when she and her neighbours liberated all the books.

Originally presented as a twenty-minute version in 2012 as part of the Theatre Uncut initiative's hot off the press responses to austerity culture, this hour-long development remains as touching and as urgent as it ever was.

Surrounded by shelf-loads of hard-back tomes, Rosie Wyatt gives a ferocious performance as Amy as she charts her accidental getting of wisdom and the call to arms for people power in the action that follows.

Where the old lady we never see represents the wisdom, decency and compassion that is being all but wiped out by wilful ignorance and greed, Amy is one of a generation who could flourish if they were only offered something other than nothing.

Brennan, Wyatt and director Bethany Pitts have together produced a vital piece of theatre about the the right to knowledge and the power of community in the face of access to both being annexed by the over-privileged few.

It is also a heart-rendingly beautiful modern classic of hard times.

Until August 24

A Walk At The Edge of the World

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

You could be forgiven for feeling like you were deep in the countryside for the first half of the Magnetic North company's exploration of wide-open spaces by way of body, mind and free-thinking soul.

It begins in the gallery gardens, in which performer Ian Cameron casually declares his intentions of leading us on a brief city stroll, pleading too for silence as we go.

As Cameron leads us on a round-trip through the neighbourhood's secret gardens, the sights, sounds and smells - of traffic roar, water ripples, buzz of life - such low-key displacement heightens the senses in something that is not so much a retreat as a quiet coming-to-terms with the world.

Back in the SNFoMA's studio space, Cameron gives us what he describes as a talk, which comes complete with what appears to be an archive slide-show of real-life times past.

Accompanied by forensically sourced visuals by the Sans facon design team of Tristan Surtees and Charles Blanc, what follows in Cameron's engagingly low-key delivery is part meditation, part psycho-geographical drive, and part philosophical inquiry of some very personal effects.

Nicholas Bone's production of his own script is a carefully constructed dramatic affirmation of the transcendental power of putting one foot in front of the other.

Until August 24

13 Sunken Years

Assembly Rooms

When thirteen-year-old Eva's vivacious and free-spirited mother, Helena, drives off and never comes back, Eva is left in the care of her granny, Ursula.

With Ursula becoming increasingly engulfed by dementia, Eva must learn to grow up pretty fast, even as she must face up to the mysteries of the river that flows beside her village.

As she moves into womanhood, the loss of Eva's mother looks set to linger forever.

Ushered in by Susan Appelbe's folksy score, Paula Salminen's play, as translated by Eva Buchwald, dovetails back and forth between time periods, as Eva's friends grow up and move away, with the figure of the canal lock-keeper a constant presence.

Set on an array of wooden platforms, Maria Oller's co-production between the Lung Ha's and Stellar Quines theatre companies in association with the Finnish National Theatre is laced with a simmering sense of grown-up mystery.

Nicola Tuxworth gives a nuanced central performance as Eva in a rites of passage story that charts three generations of women and their responses to the worlds they live in.

Until August 24

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