On the right tracks

True | Tramway, Glasgow
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The Independent Culture

As one-word titles go, they don't come much more intellectually provocative or pregnant with postmodern possibilities. All the more so when what's being named is the work of five artists whose thumbnail descriptions jointly demand a welter of hyphens and slashes. Using the whole of the vast Tramway 2 space, True pools the skills of sound/ installation artist Alain Baumann, director-choreographer Kevin Finnan, novelist, playwright and screenwriter AL Kennedy, director- choreographer and circus/performance artist Deborah Pope, and multi-media performance/installation artist Rosa Sanchez.

As one-word titles go, they don't come much more intellectually provocative or pregnant with postmodern possibilities. All the more so when what's being named is the work of five artists whose thumbnail descriptions jointly demand a welter of hyphens and slashes. Using the whole of the vast Tramway 2 space, True pools the skills of sound/ installation artist Alain Baumann, director-choreographer Kevin Finnan, novelist, playwright and screenwriter AL Kennedy, director- choreographer and circus/performance artist Deborah Pope, and multi-media performance/installation artist Rosa Sanchez.

The central focus, or starting-point, is the recent death of glamorous, voluptuous, fortysomething Lucy Palmer, and its various significances for her husband John (Michael Derrington), daughter Paula (Mabel Aitken) and lover Anthony (Nick Whitfield). Lucy herself is played by two performers, Anne Marie Timoney as the woman herself, and aerialist Lindsey Butcher as her Spirit.

The performance opens with the audience being shut into a small, dark room, ceilinged with some semi-transparent mesh, above which Butcher is suspended, half-seen, close over our heads, her movements cast as spookily shifting shadows by intermittent gleams of dull orange light, while an academic-sounding voice-over recites quasi-medical descriptions of the brain. We're then ushered through into the main space, and welcomed by Paula and Anthony to the memorial service John has organised for his late wife.

Continuing the medical allusions, Sanchez has lined the room with screens, some of them showing fragmented video projections, another mounted in the centre bearing a close-up still of what we presume to be Lucy's half-bound body, switching at one point to stylised, computer-generated images of a body in various states of disassembly. The funereal aspects include a long flower-strewn table against the back wall, and a few strategically placed plates of sausage rolls. There's also a kind of podium, rigged up with tortuous-looking neck-brace apparatus, to which John periodically retreats, a square, oversized trolley, topped with a sheet of Perspex, and a group of loungers - or examination couches? - at the far end, their upper surface covered with spiked matting. Confused? You will be.

The gist of the action seems to be about the inner wounds and taboo desires or emotions that are inflamed by Lucy's death, catalysed in dramatic terms by having both Lucys turn up for a last farewell, which prompts a stylised reinvestigation of the factors contributing to her demise. Central among them, it transpires, was the fact that Lucy was into S&M - illustrated by Anthony giving Spirit an unpleasantly thorough and extended working-over.

None the less, she also loved her husband, and daughter, in her fashion. John continues to idealise her in death as he did in life, while Paula - when not alternately bickering with Anthony and lusting after him - accuses her of emotional neglect. The programme blurb talks about exploring extremes of pain and pleasure, love and hate, along the interface of body and self, but the extremes, for the most part, come across smacking of soap-opera, while the elaborately - and expensively - conceptualised exploration smacks even louder of emperors and new clothes.

* To 16 Sept (0141-287 3900)

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