Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Tam O'Shanter (enjoyed in verse)
Twas 1983 when Communicado began:
2012 sees them revive their Tam.
Gerry Mulgrew took the bard's great number
and to rouse it from its tartan slumber
added elements of his other song:
at ninety minutes, it's rather long.
When they get to basics, the tale does race,
but the drinking scene slowed up the pace.
Puppetry, dance and live musicians too
make Tam O'Shanter an intriguing brew
of different styles, all performed with verve,
and Mulgrew's own script took quite some nerve
to pitch the bard into a modern state,
to contemporise, not just elevate.
The surprise is not the use of rhyme,
but it turns out Burns was of his time.
It's pretty droll when Tam gets pissed,
but his attitudes are misogynist.
A prelude and epilogue reveal the bard's short life:
the way he wooed then got his wife
pregnant shows a man not really thinking
of social attitudes beyond the drinking.
But Mulgrew has another, less sentimental strand,
he deconstructs our Burns, the famous Brand.
Several parts make up this play:
Burns' life, Tam's tale and a bar scene gay
and full of life, much too busy: fun in themselves the songs and stories make me dizzy
trying to follow the poetic Scots, and chasing after minor plots
performed by characters in fancy dress.
The witches sabbath has more zest
and a sinister, sexy, dance then chase,
a comic horror and Tam's escape to grace.
Communicado, in every neuk not so vile,
have a great command of dramatic style.
The shadow puppets, the movement from Malcolm Shields,
the slapstick comedy shows their skill in many fields.
Simon Donaldson, the sometime Kielty Brother,
inhabits Burns with little bother;
Tam O'Shanter is played for cheeky fun
thanks to the speedy wit of Sandy Nelson.
Joyce Falconer, as always, is versatile,
whether moaning wife or barmaid wild.
Demands for multiple roles are spread across the cast,
their changes are both smooth and fast.
A pantomime from Burn's short, like cabaret,
a series of turns become the play.
Cheeky shots at religions fundamental,
it can at times be sentimental.
It's something witty, proud, joyous and sharp:
a well-kent tale retooled and smart
.The original piece is subjected to interrogation
- not for Communicado mere heritage masturbation.
Check Mulgrew chatting and tour dates...