Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"Home" - National Theatre of Scotland

What is "home" and what does it mean to you?

That was the question being asked by The National Theatre of Scotland at its launch last week. Ten of the most inspirational directors in Scotland asked that question and came up with ten different answers and ten different ways to interpret it. The performances were taking place in various venues from Shetland to Dumfries which reflected the many different aspects and facets of Scottish life, thus demonstrating that theatre can happen almost anywhere. Each location saw a brand new piece of site-responsive theatre which was commissioned especially for the launch. The "theatre" site ranged from a shop front in Stornaway,tenement building in Aberdeen, a ferry in Shetland, a block of high-rise flats in Glasgow and the one I was lucky enough to see was at a "secret location" in East Lothian on Thursday 23rd February 2006.....

We had to arrive at the Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh at 16.45 on a cold wet Thursday night. We were taken to a bus and driven to our "secret location", which just happened to be a very familiar place to me......it was where we set up our knitting group last year!! Yes it was Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum and this proved to be a brilliant location for the play we were about to see.

The play was a modern day version of Hansel and Gretel set in the 1970's. The museum had infact been converted into a 1970's style sittingroom and the actors were in "period" costume with music from The Bay City Rollers (themselves a local band of that time) being blasted out of the record player. (I am embarassed to say that I used to listen to them in my youth and probably if I were to dig deep I might just find some of their albums!!!! Oh boy that shows my age!!!). Many areas of the site were highlighted by spot lights and on looking out of the museum window we could watch "Hansel and Gretel" come towards home after being left in the woods by the wicked step-mother. Once the indoor scene is played out the audience then follow the children up through the woods at the back of the site.

Here you find that the trees have been lit up and that there are forest sound effects in the trees as you walk past. Of course by this time it is beginning to get quite dark and spooky!!! We continue to follow the children past gravestones and other undistinguishable things as we walk further into the woods .......then we come apon a path lit with fairy lights and you can here music playing in the background, as you get nearer you discover that it is The Power House cleverly disguised as the gingerbread cottage belonging to the wicked witch.

On entering the Gingerbread house you are totally mesmerised by the transition of the building. There were seats round the room and running the length of it is a huge table laden with all the "food" one could ever imagine. The next part of the play is focused on this table. At one end of the room is two beds and at the other it was made to look like the witches kitchen. In the middle of the table, cleverly disguised by a table cloth is "the cage" where Hansel is kept prisoner. At the end the wicked witch is pushed into the oven and we all make a quick exit from the building to sounds of pressure in the oven being build up before the whole place "explodes".

As we follow the children out of the building we pass the grave of the wicked step-mother and hear their father calling for them. We all head towards the bus and this heralds the end of a most spellbinding magical experience I have ever seen. We leave the play as we drop the children and their father at the front door of their HOME and thus we are returned to the Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh.


Blogger Mark Fisher said...

Enjoyed your very vivid account of the East Lothian Home - I was disappointed not to be able to get to it myself because it sounded fab. Can't complain, though, cos I got round several others (it's my job - nice work if you can get it). If you're interested, my reactions are here: National Theatre of Scotland articles

12:52 pm  

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