Arts Review: A&E

Dir. Kirsty McAdam, The Old Hairdressers, 10th – 11th November 2015

Upstairs at the cosy ‘The Old Hairdressers’ Student Theatre at Glasgow stages its second piece of this semester, after the successful adaptations of Jungle Book during New Talents Nights. Comparing the two is silly: A&E by Lottie Finklaire doesn’t feature talking animals, dancing animals or animals with face paint (although there is some glittering blue make-up), instead this is a truly instense drama.

Director Kirsty McAdam has created a suspenseful, emotional piece that suits the bare room and stage where it’s being performed. The only pieces of decor are a few chairs and a very comfortable-looking rusty sofa, but through the excellent acting it conjures up a whole new world. Halfway through the show, one of the main characters shares her philosophy about personalities: like Rubixcubes, everyone is made up of different parts that could form six perfect squares. However, in reality we’re all messed up. A&E felt something like that. The different storylines or experiences of the characters could have been told separately, forming a coherent unit, but everything is “messed up”, intertwined, connected to each other.

Piece by piece, you start figuring out who these characters are and why they are together, waiting. Scene changes, that have the actors walking on and off stage through the aisle during a black out, are frequent and take quite some time, something that seems to distract both the audience and the actors. However, it does build up tension. I felt captivated by the action, even though everyone is waiting on cold, hard chairs in a hospital. And while waiting, the characters talk about everything and nothing. I envisioned the creation of this piece as someone following a recipe: add a cup of anxiety, 4 tablespoons of teenage angst, a pinch of conversation on racism and a handful on feminism. Sometimes the flavour is a bit unexpected but overall A&E has a powerful, intense outcome.

[Aike Janson]

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