Theatre: Unlocked Freedom/No Rights To Have An Angel

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Neil Cooper, Three stars

This week's announcement of the establishment of the UK's first deaf performing arts degree course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has been pushed hugely by the Glasgow-based Solar Bear Theatre company. The company have been working with deaf artists and performers since its inception, and are quite rightly co-running the course in partnership with RCS. It's timely too that Solar Bear's recent flurry of activity peaked this weekend with their hosting of Progression 2015, a two day international celebration of deaf arts.

Thursday night saw a double bill of large ensemble-based works by the Moscow-based Nedoslov company. The first piece, Unlocked Freedom, based on Maxim Gorky's 1882 short story, Makar Chudra, is about a horny young peasant who murders his gypsy bride only to be stabbed to death in turn by her father. The second, more impressionistic, piece, No Rights To Have An Angel, looks at art, life and death through a jazz age silent movie-style scenario that takes a peek backstage in a cut-throat showbiz world.

While the former bursts into vivid life with a whirlwind of traditional dance and recorded song awash with raging colours and raging hormones, the second throws more contemporary monochromatic shapes set to a more thoroughly modern soundtrack. Both, in different ways, look at notions of freedom, be it breaking through creative or domestic shackles to find liberation beyond. Given the highly stylised physical and dance and music theatre aesthetic of both, as they incorporate signing into otherwise wordless scenarios, it's a telling preoccupation in an intermittently fascinating showcase of how different cultures embrace hearing impairments as something vital to their artistic world.