Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Swindle & Death" - June 2008

Although Scottish theatre tends to quieten down in June and July before the feeding frenzy that is the Fringe, The Tron have put together an interesting programme for that lull period. Whilst booking tickets for 'Oh! What A Lovely War', 'Swindle & Death' by Mull Theatre caught our eye. Since they've been "Touring Scotland since 1707" (S&D, not Mull Theatre - according to the programme they've only been around since 1966) it's about time we saw their work.

Statler obviously knew people who write about theatre would get it in the neck during this, so bowed out of attending. So a theatre novice was dragged along at the last minute to see a show about the theatre. It was an interesting to see how she would cope with the 'in jokes'. To be honest, a lot of it probably went over her head, but what was left was still enough to make it an enjoyable night.

The Brigadoon-esque fictional company give a portrayal of Scottish historical events and Shakespearean melodrama as you've never quite seen it before. Wobbly sets, curtains that don't quite meet and acting that make the set look good. But this all hides a darker truth behind the scenes of what the reality of the company's longevity is. Helen McAlpine give a good performance as the newcomer Marjorie, who's hiding her own reason for auditioning for the company. Whilst Barrie Hunter Malcolm/Malefice is suitably menacing and crass in equal measure. The eponymous heroes of Swindle (Hamish Wilson) and Death (Andrew Dallmeyer) provide the guiding hand to the motley crew, with an almost good cop/bad cop style. However the most humour, and sympathy is for Angela (Sarah Haworth), who you're quite happily laughing at, until you realise quite how 'touched' she is.

There are some nice particular barbs at those who sit scribbling throughout performances (I'd like to state for the record that the day I start taking notes through a show, it's the last performance I'll go to) and the need for theatre to be educational and inclusive - illustrated well with a very nice speech by Mary Queen of Scots. It did wander a little at times, and the (deliberate) lack of polish started to wear a little thin in parts, but overall it was an enjoyable evening and that's what I took from 'Swindle & Death'. Remember why you actually pay your money and go - it's to enjoy yourself.

"Swindle & Death" has completed its run at The Tron but continues on an extensive tour.

Image by Douglas Robertson used with permission

1 Heckle

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed Swindle & Death too, but felt the in-gags and swiping at the Scottish Arts Council was getting a bit over-laboured at times. I personally would have preferred a little less political soap boxing, as it detracted from an otherwise humorous set of performances!