Local/A Language of Others Tramway, Glasgow
The kind of genre-defying performance work in which Glasgow's Tramway specialises is sometimes accused of playing too narrowly to the cutting- edge cognoscenti, but while the first of these two new commissions from the venue holds true to its emphasis on devised and multi-media work, the collaboration at its heart - with the Suspect Culture company, last seen in Timeless, directing twelve non-professionals from a local community drama project - offers a self-evidently fruitful model of genuinely shared theatrical experience.

Its starting-point was the universally potent concept of home, and its role in defining both our external and internal landscapes, either real or imagined, a theme the finished product artfully and eloquently expands to illustrate that while our geographical roots may seem firmly planted in one place, in our heads we can be living somewhere else altogether.

The show's narrative framework follows six disparate Glasgwegians as they each make their way, for various more or less ordinary reasons, to the city's Central Station. Played out on a long, deep stage, bare but for two mobile projection screens, it interweaves live action and video sequences, soliloquy and dialogue, realist and dream scenarios, playing partly on a Sliding Doors-type notion of parallel lives or universes, but subtly shading the divisions between the actual and the wishful so that each continually illuminates the other.

Technically and dramatically, the material - all devised, written and filmed by the twelve participants - is realised with arresting economy and style, with fluid choreographic touches guiding the flow of the action, and each character's story cleverly demarcated by emblematic images and gestures. The effect is to conjure, with a sharpness of focus that's alternately hilarious and moving, the multiple layers and textures of experience jostling beneath the surface of an individual's or a city's everyday life.

A Language of Others, the other opening production in Tramway's Prepare to Evolve season, arguably springs from an exploration of similar tensions, between our desires for rootedness and escape, but approached from a far more abstract, yet also essentialist, theatrical direction. "Theatrical", though, is a somewhat constricting term to describe the piece, created and directed by designer/performer Alex Rigg for his Transfigured company, containing as it does indoor and outdoor sequences, specially-commissioned choral music, grand-scale sculptural choreography and sets, a ten-piece pipe band and a live punk-jazz workout, in keeping with its creators' goals of blurring the bounds between visual and performance art. The difficulty with this kind of overarching agenda, though, tends to lie in giving it particular form and focus, in order to overcome the sense of vacuum that ensues when such ends are pursued in themselves.

Rigg certainly succeeds at least half-way in meeting this challenge, pinning down his wilder or woollier flights of fancy with elemental images of birth, death, metamorphosis and conflict - between flesh and spirit, gravity and flight, order and entropy. Divided into three "chapters", the piece does however seem over-extended at 75 minutes, its bold juxtapositions of sound, physical action and Rigg's huge, surprising set designs - massive woven baskets filled with earth; pivoted steel and perspex ramps ten yards across - hard put to sustain any revealing synergy beyond their initial or visceral impact.

That impact, though, was at times tremendously forceful: the sudden appearance of the assembled pipers at the far end of a long, semi-lit corridor, their exhilarating brassy fanfare accompanying the progress towards them of a single dancer gradually shedding his spiked, wire-mesh "skin"; the closing sequence's adrenalin-fuelled tumult, with eight black-suited dancers careering pell-mell back and forth over those enormous ramps, crashing them gleefully down from end to end, accompanied by Junk Culture's screeching sax and industrial techno racket. But these elements of spectacle tended to connect only in the broadest, most obvious terms with Rigg's evidently more esoteric intentions, this half-articulated quality to the performance giving rise at times to a creeping sense of bathos.

Both runs ended; the Prepare to Evolve season continues until July 4, bookings 0141 287 3900

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