Platform, The Bridge, Glasgow

Mary Brennan 

four stars

Parp! P-a-a-r-p! Rory Clark’s sousaphone is blowing wonderfully fruity raspberries and we - adults, as well as children - are laughing and totally loving the sound, and the sight, of this great metal boa constrictor that’s wrapped around his long, lanky frame. Plink-plink-plink - nearby, Rory Haye is on ukelele, Claire Willoughby is on saxophone, Sita Pieraccini is on melodica although in a matter of beats’n’bars this hugely versatile quartet will have moved on to other instruments, and will be playing around with rhythms and sounds that range from acoustic guitar, to marimba, to... ripping up sheets of paper.
There’s so much to enjoy - and applaud - here but what’s especially astute about Whirlygig is how composer Daniel Padden has orchestrated so many everyday objects into the making of music. Percussion is the name of many of the games  we see and hear: a table-top can be rapped, thumped, scratched, a bottle can be ting-ting-tinged, and the sound will alter depending on the amount of fluid inside - and when it’s empty, blow across the neck and whoo!whoo!, foghorns ahoy! Time was that much of this adventuring would have been accommodated within primary (and secondary) school curriculums, but such fun-filled learning isn’t always available nowadays so it’s good to know that Whirlygig’s co-producers - Catherine Wheels and Red Bridge Arts - have scheduled performances in schools across Scotland. Various community halls and venues are also in on the act so families can share in the hi-jinks (and low sousaphone notes) that Whirlygig delivers with such comedic aplomb. At the command of an insistent cuckoo-clock, the musicians assume formal ‘band mode’ behind music stands, but - as hinted by their costumes - daft clowning is never far away as they share (with a literal cross-over of talents, and bowing arms) in an exuberant hour of mischief and music that is aimed at audiences aged 6+ but is an imaginative treat for adults too.
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