Gareth K Vile enjoys two contrasting pieces.
The eclecticism of the Q Gallery’s boutique performance programme suggests that the only parameters are scale and quality: the first two offerings, while they both touch on sexuality, are radically different in content, style and intention. To Kill a Kelpie is intense and serious, examining the crippling impact of child abuse; Colette is humorous, a one-woman romp through the life of the French woman of letters which features songs, mime, impersonations of old people and a wavering French accent. Where Kelpie is earnest with a clear if simple message, Colette is a post-modern collision of stand up and biography.
To Kill a Kelpie deals with the reunion of two brothers after the funeral of their abusive uncle .Jim Webster-Stewart and Gerry Lynch develop a strong partnership, capturing both the ease of family banter and the gradual unravelling of their intimacy over a mere forty minutes. Matthew Smith’s new script is sprightly, moving through a critical twenty four hours in a series of vignettes. If the conclusion – sexual abuse undermines healthy sexuality, replacing innocence with paranoia, delusion and mania – is predictable, the journey is engaging. The brothers deal with their pain in radically different ways, and the apparently more forgiving brother had merely hidden his anger. The tension as he slowly unravels drives the piece forward. Never descending to sentimentality, it does veer towards self-consciously proclaiming itself to be “about an issue” without ever flinching from the complexities of human personality.
By all accounts, including her own, Colette was a hellion, scandalising Paris, writing novels and escaping from husbands through skylights and semi-incestuous affairs. Yvonne Caddell struggles for an hour and a half to bring Colette to vibrant life, playing husbands, lesbian lovers, admirers and journalists as well as Colette herself – and her cat. It really is a tour de force, Caddell seemingly inexhaustible, singing beautifully in a series of musical parodies and flirting with the audience, tempting them into twentieth century decadent France.
Given the drama of her life, it is unsurprising that Colette’s story is little more than a narrative. It is never quite clear who she is, what forces drove her own or why, for that matter, we ought to care. Although she is feted in France for her linguistic skill, she does not translate that well and her story seems very dated. However, the reason to catch this show is for Caddell herself. She is astonishingly vigorous, capturing moods and passions, showcasing every performance art short of playing the trombone and entertaining, always entertaining. A judicious editing would perhaps give the portrayal more focus, but the show did race past.
Limited tickets, a small scale, intimate surroundings, engaging performances and honed scripts - and a free glass of wine: The Boutique season is one of Glasgay!’s real treats.