Edinburgh 2013: Ciara - A complex and rewarding meditation on gangland Glasgow
Paul Vallely is visiting professor in Public Ethics at the University of Chester and a senior research fellow at the Brooks World Poverty Institute at the University of Manchester. He writes on ethical, political and cultural issues. He has a fortnightly column in the Independent on Sunday and also writes for the New York Times and the Church Times. His latest book is Pope Francis – Untying the Knots. He was co-author of the report of the Commission for Africa and has chaired several development charities.
Monday 05 August 2013
The Traverse Theatre has always been the powerhouse of new Scottish writing for the stage and, as it enters its 50th year, now under the tutelage of its impressive new artistic director Orla O’Loughlin, it is once again at the top of its game.
Its festival centrepiece Ciara is a complex and rewarding dramatic monologue by the aptly-named David Harrower which charts the changing psychological landscape of the scarred streets of Glasgow through the story of a gangster, Mick, and his journey from the world of ordinary decent crime to the moral quagmire of drug-dealing.
That sounds grim. And in lesser hands it could be. But Harrower is a clever and subtle writer who moves skilfully through deft observation, dark psychology, bitter humour and violent melodrama. He is brilliantly served by a formidable piece of acting from the award-winning Scots TV and stage actress Blythe Duff (Jackie Reid in Taggart) as the art gallery-owning daughter who begins as a sardonic scrutineer of the scene but slowly emerges as involved, compromised and tainted by a world in which the old criminal codes of honour dissolve and require the sacrifice of even the protagonist’s children.
O’Loughlin, as director, navigates a skilful path through the play’s jump-cut writing which is as full of ambiguity as the metaphor of the painting of a giant woman draped across the city which resurfaces throughout the work. The play is dotted with references to Glasgow, which kept the Edinburgh audience chortling, but as the classical Greek dress of the central character reminded us, the themes are epic and universal. Compelling quality drama.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
Best underrated Christmas movies from Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga