Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Infamous Brothers Davenport.

Last week at the Lyceum. (This week, at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow.)

I wanted to like this a lot. I love Vox Motus. I admire their ambition a great deal. They do cute, fun, frolicsome stuff that makes you think. They're big fans - as far as I can see - of using theatrical trickery to tell stories. And hats off to them for this ambition. I loved their Slick in the Fringe a few years back. And I once met one of the main men and have a mild crush on him. All of this helps sell tickets, of course.

The premise for this show - a Victorian séance - is great. And in such a venue as the Lyceum, perfectly atmospheric.

The spectacle started promisingly. Chillingly. Spectacularly, even. With an extremely impressive piece of wardrobe trickery supervised by an apparently - presumably - vulnerable audience member.

The set was stunning in fact. Good costumes. Suspenseful atmosphere. Great casting. It appears - as far as I can tell from my cheap person's internet investigations (at £24 for a ticket, I begrudged lashing out on a programme) that the brothers were played by Actual Brothers. One of them was my little favourite Ryan Fletcher. The other, Scott. Little Ryan I've been fond of since Black Watch days but wouldn't you know, he also featured in Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us, 365, The Wheel. Substantial chunks of the finest theatre to be pouring out of Scotland in recent years.

AMAzing effects. Amazing. The table. Go see.

The problem for me really was the story. A fairly sketchy narrative to start with, it was stretched out to breaking point by the end. Without enough colour having been built up around the emerging characters for you to care much that this was how it turned out. And the wardrobe - home of revelations to start with - became a bit of a weary accessory by the close when it was unwrapped for the 94th time to reveal - well, I shan't tell you.

Technically, the show was stupendously astoundingly impressive and you shouldn't lose sight of that. But technical mastery didn't compensate wholly in my book for narrative spindlyness.

A pity because as one who is easily chilled - as the dreadful (film version of) Woman in Black neatly demonstrated - I could have been chilled-er by this.

Don't let that deter you though. Go see it for the table.


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