New Works: Scavengers and Mother Maria
Traverse Theatre HHH
We go to the theatre to experience what television cannot give us. Depending on the night, the show and the audience it can be a combination of many intangible things, like intimacy, interactivity and immediacy. Which is why Scavengers, by Davey Anderson, is so incongruous.
With a Greek chorus giving the screen directions for the film that plays in protagonist Michael’s head, played by Francois Menard-Noens, one feels as if the production is not so much for theatre as a screenplay being acted out, cues and all. So what would be a 30-minute drama imbued with shades of Run Lola Run and the life story of death-faker canoeist John Darwin is suddenly an hour-long description of what should be happening.
Entertaining and diverting as the story may be, the actors aren’t asked to stretch themselves further than some cheeky stereotyping, the director becomes superfluous after a bit of choreographing and light rigging, and the audience is set apart from becoming involved in the action because of the tendency for our brains to assume that anything screen-related is on the other side of a piece of glass.
There seems, somehow, to be an intangible lack of connection. Anderson has certainly succeeded in creating a talking point – just perhaps not the one he had hoped for, though.
The second play, Mother Maria by Ann Marie Di Mambro, is a more solemn affair based on the extraordinary true story of an exiled Russian aristocrat who became embroiled in the French resistance after becoming a nun.
The cast put in an energetic, vital performance focusing on the religious and emotional intensity that drove her life. India Crawford puts in a vivid turn as heroine Elizaveta/Maria and Andy Paterson’s Daniel as her husband and conscience is well considered and impassioned.
One can’t help but feel that we’ve seen a pesky novice nun by the name of sister Maria up against the Nazis before, but by the end of the second act it’s easy to imagine that Mother Maria might have been what Chekhov would have come up with if Rogers and Hammerstein had been otherwise occupied.
Run ends tomorrow