And the beat goes on...

<i>Red </i>| The Arches, Glasgow
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The Independent Culture

While returning to the world's oldest subject, Edinburgh's Boilerhouse company has once again set out to create a newkind of theatre show, following previous multi-media, cross-genre productions such as Headstate and Circus.

While returning to the world's oldest subject, Edinburgh's Boilerhouse company has once again set out to create a newkind of theatre show, following previous multi-media, cross-genre productions such as Headstate and Circus.

Red, we are told, is neither a play, nor a gig, nor a dance piece, though it takes in elements of all three. It's touring nightclubs rather than theatres, and is based partly on pieces of writing contributed by members of the public, following an open invitation on the company's website.

Six funky young things, decked out in casual clubwear and microphone headsets, ring the changes on the theme of love. "We all want it. We all need it. We all lose it. We all break it. We just keep on doing it," reads the publicity strapline - which, in terms of its content, about sums it up.

Design-wise, the action takes place on half a dozen small, portable, variously interlocking podiums, with the audience milling about promenade-style. Working solo or in pairs, though with the others often echoing the gist of their words via mime or movement, the cast enact a succession of monologue and dialogue passages, mostly zeroing in, both in the present and in retrospect, on those moments of a relationship when either a beginning or an ending is set in train.

There's plenty of emotional conviction and telling narrative detail to bring life to these mini-vignettes and fleeting snapshots of blossoming or fading romance, the actors switching guises and voices with a slickness to match the fluid, restless movement of the whole.

This is underscored by an insistently pulsing clubland soundtrack (over which the performers sometimes struggle to be heard) interspersed with slower, more lyrical acoustic passages and a few live songs. These last, it must be said, though proficiently performed,are fairly standard-issue angsty, confessional ballads, and sit somewhat awkwardly with the rest of the piece, seemingly present only to boost its multi-media credentials.

Beneath the pace and polish, too, there's little attention paid to developing some kind of through-line, or arranging the pieces of the patchwork into any clear pattern.

While many of the individual segments are beautifully written, in themselves they can't really go beyond simply evoking the already oft-described feelings of being in or falling out of love, and the failure to gather its pieces towards some larger overall import leaves Red seeming rather thinly constructed.

Touring Scotland until 18 Nov (0131-556 5644)

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