Dir. Matt Fenton, The Arches Behaviour Festival at Tramway, 15th March

In May, a quaint piece written by Frank Buecheler and part of the Behaviour 2014 festival, was interesting, if flawed.

Given that I quite liked it let’s start with what worked. The music, composed by Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy, was quite fantastic and brought a genuine tenderness and sense of both melancholy and elation to the piece. This was complemented by vocals provided by Leentje Van de Cruys, playing the estranged wife reading (singing) the final letters of a dying man to his father. Ultimately the soundscape provided a cohesive and moving emotional core – alongside the good script/lyrics which walked a precarious tightrope between being smothering and melancholic, as well as being able to have some fun within the rather grim subject matter.

However the power of the audio serves to highlight how confused the rest of the production proved to be. Visually the piece was pretty, with a relatively Spartan aesthetic of table, chair, couch and empty picture frames initially providing the only dressing for the stage. Leentje then proceeded to spread pages of the letters about the space, with video and still images projected onto the frames behind her. Aesthetically this was all pleasing to the eye but the problem was that no one particular idea seemed to stick around long enough to leave a lasting impression – one couldn’t help feeling that visually each element that they put in place could have been built more upon. However, in spite of this complaint, the visuals did at least succeed in bringing about some pathos, if only in the sense of bringing about some life to a dead environment, it’s just a shame that this process wasn’t as fully realised as it could have been.

Overall, the piece was interesting and, at times, moving, particularly with its soundscape, but unfortunately held itself up with a failure to follow through with all the aesthetic ideas it puts forward.

[Andrew Scade]

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