The Hold

The Hold

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

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Neil Cooper

Given just how much we are living in an age of instant archiving via Instagram, Tumblr and whatever other social media app may have just gone live, Adrian Osmond's play about one man's rummaging through the emotional totems that shaped him is a particularly timely piece of work. As performed by Lung Ha's inclusive ensemble company in Maria Oller's site-specific tour around a building that holds a vast store of archival material, it gives a hungry public several keys to the past.

As John Edgar's ageing Peter goes through boxes with mobile phone wielding Sally to conjure up his past while a distracted Bridget loses sight of her little girl elsewhere, this is an infinitely more personal display than anything held off-limits in glass cases. This is something the bumptious Professor Stone's lecture on "Thing Theory" makes clear.

With Peter's younger self reappearing to attempt to woo his dream girl Alice, sense memories are made flesh in a play about loves clung on to, and children lost, that's as elegiac as anything by Stephen Poliakoff. A modernist music score by Kenneth Dempster played by a live quintet adds to the mood.

If the venue's acoustics aren't always friendly to Oller's production - and questions remain about why no regular Edinburgh theatre seems prepared to house Lung Ha's work - its dramatic and philosophical ambitions make up for this. With the company's increasingly well-drilled performers relaying Osmond's script with sensitivity and grace, Lung Ha's have created a show that attempts to go beyond nostalgia to capture an idea of how the collective past is about much, much more than official history.