Saturday, April 26, 2008

"Yarn" - April 2008

There are few things that will persuade us to make the journey from Glasgow to Dundee on a Friday night but we weren't going to miss Grid Iron's latest site specific work in conjunction with Dundee Rep. 'Yarn' is staged in Dundee's Verdant Works - a Victorian jute factory turned industrial museum - and the production's 'thread' linking the many elements together is clothing.

"Yarn" asks us to consider the impact clothes have on us, the way we view them and the price we pay for them. The weave of the tales is pretty loose and at times the series of individual scenes seems a little too much like a showcase rather than a single piece of theatre. But this somewhat 'mix and match' philosophy allows them to cover a lot of ground and ensures there will be something for everyone. Some of the show's most powerful moments come from scenes where an individual shares a story relating to an item of clothing - Kevin Lennon's marvelously performed memories of his grandfather's coat, Itxaso Moreno's emotional reflection on clothes from her childhood, and Robert Paterson's wonderfully relaxed and engaging tale of his scarf. Other highlights include the insight we are given to the true cost of the clothing in an genuinely powerful scene making use of a puppet, and a look at the Three Fates with Hannah Donaldson, who is excellent throughout, being particularly effective as Lachesis. Martin McCormick and Alia Alzougbi also have an enchanting moment as a struggling writer and a rather impressively portrayed spider.

Although there are moments that didn't quite work for me. Although beautifully told and performed their version of Henry James' "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes" made little impact and the 'wedding night' segment was a 30 second gag extended well beyond it's worth.

But any misses are quickly forgotten as we move outside for a stunning catwalk finale. Music and lighting combine to create the perfect atmosphere for this quick-change fashion show. There are definitely some 'eh????' moments in there but I suspect they may finally click for me in a day or two, and there is a glorious crossover moment between two 'characters' from legend and rhyme associated with spiders (another one of the threads running through the show).

Ben Harrison's direction, incredible technical team and well drilled ushers ensure the show goes off without a hitch and the constant shift in segments ensures the 90 minute run time flies past. Like "Roam" before it, "Yarn" is one of those rare productions which hits the balance between being entertaining and thought-provoking just right.

Yarn runs at Verdant Works in Dundee until May 3rd with shows at 7pm and 9.15pm.
Image by Douglas McBride used with permission

1 Heckle

Waldorf said...

I wasn't always completely sure of what was going on, but came out having enjoyed myself.

It's very much an event piece, and people will definitely prefer some elements over others. Despite my legs going to sleep under me (a little more time for the floor sitters to get comfy would have been good) the segments in front of the Narnian-esque wardrobe all worked well. Particularly 'Amitosh' and 'Zahra' (apologies if I've mangled the spelling). Although both 'Grandson' and 'Mourning Daughter' really connected with me too.

You did leave with a large element of eh? But thinking back it all did weave (sorry) together well. The only element we're still puzzling over is the scene involving the man in the black coat. Both of us took different things from this, but maybe it's just showing the power that a leather coat and jackboots can have - you follow the orders.