Theater review: MAIM at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre

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Theatre

MAIM-MAIM

Glasgow’s Tron Theatre

NEIL COOPER

Four Star Stars

Since time immemorial, storm clouds have been forming over the Isle of Mull off the western coast of Scotland. Over the last century, items relating to land and language have significantly simplified, as this hypnotic live collage of music, words and movement intentionally and poetically shows.

This is an amalgamation of intensely personal answers to the fact that the Gaelic language has been all but erased, initiated by Alasdair C. Whyte of the Gaelic electronic duo WHYTE, who appears on stage during the show. Whyte and company’s dramatic meditation looks at the island groups that once spoke and sung the language but became collateral damage to those with greater plans and deeper pockets in the 75 minutes of Muireann Kelly’s slow-burning production for Theatre Gu Leor.

Whyte’s and his collaborators Elspeth Turner and Evie Waddell’s litanies of lived experience are interspersed with the brooding, atmospheric live tunes of WHYTE’s other half, Ross Whyte. From this emerges a patchwork of real-life stories that combine into something bigger, along with the choreography of Jessica Kennedy.

Against a backdrop of projected land masses brought to life by Lewis Den Hertog on the set of Jen McGinley, the Gaelic poetry, translated with English subtitles, is enriched in a monologue made all the more strong by its silence by Waddell’s introduction of British Sign Language.

While the experience of MAIM (translated: fear, terror, or alarm) comes from the immediate environment, there are references to a common reverberation, such that in a display of collective power an initial sense of sorrow gradually gives way to defiance and regeneration. A seething mixture that is part beauty, part call to arms emerges from this, as those caught in the crossfire learn to push, pull, give, take, ebb, flow, and above all, help each other to rise again.

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