Nursery Crymes

Trongate, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

five stars

There’s a mean, biting edge to the cold November night - and a deliberately chilling element in the site-specific Nursery Crymes. Lurking in the dim-lit, narrow wynds that flank the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall are performance-vignettes that slyly point up the savage side to centuries-old nursery rhymes. It’s this dark, menacing element that Glasgow’s pranksters extraordinaire, Mischief-La-Bas, have fastened on in their latest promenade adventure, with director Angie Dight and designer Bill Breckenridge recruiting a remarkable team of associates - maverick talent Liz Aggiss, youth collective Junction 25, AV artist Dav Bernard among them - to evoke the Awful Warnings contained in jingles about Bo Peep’s missing sheep and the Three Blind Mice... Hold on:those mice, why would anyone cut off their tails? Why are there so many rhymes about animals, children even, going missing?

As we go down the first lane, hidden-away voices recite what becomes a litany of violence. Bo Peep shepherds us round a corner, and a humorous trail of evidence leads us to a scene of crime, where police treat us all as suspects. This is a brilliant twist. Suddenly there’s a sharp reality to the previous soundscapes, installations and film-work. The questions come like veiled threats: have you seen Goosey-Goosey Gander? Where was she wandering? Wee Willie Winkie - do you know him? What about the Little Boy Who Lives Down The Lane? The old, familiar words take on a darker, intensity when directed at you by a copper out of The Bill. Upstairs, in the Panopticon, Liz Aggiss’s screening winks naughtily at the macabre guignol that still entertains us before, outside again, the F***ed-Up Fairground invites us to take pot-shops at helpless targets. Clever, funny, thought-provoking - it would be criminal not to revive it soon.