Ferguson and Barton

Platform, The Bridge, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

three stars

IF you’re familiar with Hitchcock’s 1958 classic, Vertigo, then you’ll know that Ferguson and Barton are the central characters in a mesh of murder, deception and doomed love. On-screen, ‘Scottie’ Ferguson was played by James Stewart and Judy Barton by Kim Novak.

On-stage, in this new dance-theatre piece premiered by Shotput in association with Platform, co-creators Jim Manganello and Lucy Ireland briefly step into the roles, using them to explore – and challenge – how Vertigo characterises the power balance in the couple’s relationship.

So are the Judys of this world always destined to be rescued by the Scotties? Even if he’s damaged goods – his vertigo has caused tragedies in the past -–and she is calmly capable of manipulating him? It’s time for lights, camera, action – and a lively hour of inventive performance.

If you do know Hitchcock’s film, then you’ll enjoy how Manganello and Ireland reference moments of text and interaction as a framework for their own live video-work. However, no previous knowledge of Vertigo is needed to pick up on themes of driven attraction – but is it love? or neediness? – alongside dark forebodings and hints of paranoia.

The latter is understandable: this Ferguson and Barton are always being watched – by us, but also by the mediating eye of the cameras they use throughout. This opens up a pleasing, teasing commentary about the seeming reality of what’s on-screen and what is actually real – and how we’re lured into overlapping the two. Meanwhile she and he are role-playing, swapping over leadership/supportive tropes and – a real treat, this - going into the dance that reveals inner angsts, hot-to-trot passions and glimmers of wish projection.

The moves range from wriggling-squirmy knots of hyperactivity to slow stretches and elegant lines, with a soupçon of Hollywood twinkle-toes mixed in. Further development is likely – there’s certainly no shortage of ideas and flair already.