Best of VAULT Festival
Director: Allie Butler
Writer: Gill Kirk
Original soundtrack/DJ: Joshua Payne
PASSION from Glaswegian theatre collective Tidy Carnage brings together live music, movement, dance, and unforgettable production that examines the notion of self, of someone lost in a moment protected by familiarity and haunted by a memory. The audience is introduced to Eden, a former soldier now alone raver during one of these nights out and, due to the standing room only nature of the show, the audience becomes an integral part of the show.
Edan, Helen Cuinn, is sat on stage filling multiple water bottles as music is blaring across the room from the live DJ set up just towards the backs of the room. The audience begins to fill the room though there are only two benches near the front that can sit 2 (maybe 3 with a bit of a squeeze) for the rest of us will stand for the next hour. As the doors close the music flares up as Edan moves to the top of the stairs and begin to rub cream all over her face followed by thick black eye make-up.
Nobody in the creative team wastes any time in bringing PASSION to life and it hits the audiences with a resounding thump. The decision to have no chairs was perhaps one of this productions most ambitious and successful moves. The lack of chairs meant Cuinn was able to bring Edan into this fourth space and down from the stage, breaking some theatre norms, it allowed her to connect to the audience in such a refreshing way. As Edan leaves the club and walks through the smoking section the audience takes on a different purpose and they become introduced the people in Edan’s world and in some cases are the people of Edan’s world.
It is only during these trips the audience begins to see the isolation and loneliness of the character, her aggression and the increasing effects that the ecstasy is having on her. Edan begins to unburden herself using the audience to unwittingly play the people of her world.
One of the most powerful moments in PASSION comes during the tightly choreographed fight scene. Edan’s movement is a dance with the DJ who is creating the sound effects that guide Edan’s fight. One or two of the steps missed their mark but this only illustrated the complexity of what Cuinn was doing, if it had been flawless it would have been slightly less convincing.
"Helen Cuinn brought Edan to life with a respect and believability that made the character's pain, isolation, and experience real, she was/is someone we all know."
Tidy Carnage managed to create a piece of theatre that is quite identifiable in its Glaswegian roots and its exploration of the club scene but is also a universal and timeless story. Edan is an explosive character performed by Cuinn with power and a real believability that grabs you. The significance of the water, the bottles, and the glow-sticks come to ahead as the play does and complete 360 and a new, more vulnerable Edan shows herself.
The striking music (created for this production by Joshua Payne) is emotive yet still intense, begins to create the fragile final steps that Edan is to walk - at this point it becomes impossible to take your eyes off the Cuinn. Edan asks the audience to come towards the white lines on the floor and begins to pull bottle after bottle out of her rucksack and lay them in a line leading up towards the stage.
The glow-sticks now allow the audience to follow Edan as she walks along this guard of honour. At this point the tone of the play has changed so drastically one begins to realise the glow-sticks have not only created a path towards her concluding tragedy, but also perhaps take on another symbolic meanings.
Tidy Carnage have created a play that required their audience to have an open mind and to embrace what they saw. Director Allie Butler took a few risks that could have hurt the production, or the audience experience, but they are risks that where essential for this production and to Gill Kirk's fantastic writing.
Helen Cuinn brought Edan to life with a respect and believability that made the character's pain, isolation, and experience real, she was/is someone we all know. From start to finish Tidy Carnage grab their audience by the shoulders and shake them and never let them go.
New theatre has to take risks and continue to challenge themselves as well as their audience and if Tidy Carnage's motive was to leave you with an impression then it is fair to say they were more than successful in this.