Ferguson and Barton @ Platform, Glasgow

Lucy Ireland and Jim Manganello's Hitchcock-inspired show is a captivating, multi-layered and at-times confusing piece of theatre

Review by Mirren Wilson | 14 Mar 2019

It’s always a thrill to see a new twist on a classic as performers continue to be inspired by the crucial creators that have gone before them. This time, Alfred Hitchcock – the great master of suspense – provides the basis for new work. Named after James Stewart's and Kim Novak's characters in Hitchcock’s 1958 psycological thriller Vertigo, Ferguson and Barton is a fresh piece of dance-theatre that explores the making and breaking effects that obsession and relationships can bring.

There’s a nice buzz in the air as co-creators Lucy Ireland and Jim Manganello make their debut as Ferguson and Barton. It doesn’t feel like two characters with a story, it feels very personal. This is the first full piece created by Glasgow-based company Shotput who aim to be ‘more sensual than logical.’

The movement is the most impressive and refined element to this piece. There’s magnetism, franticness and allure as the duo explore dependency to a vintage soundtrack. Ireland and Manganello work very well with tempo and repetition, almost like Pina Bausch; creating a spark of danger and excitement. The way they play with stillness and natural sound creates the famous suspense, but it feels a tiny bit flat in terms of emotion.

With another nod to Hitchcock, the piece weaves in live cinematography. There are some enchanting closeups of Mangello as he watches Ireland prepare and get ready, as well as some visually artistic shots: it’s a great added dynamic. However, the thing about film is that it pinpoints your focus. When the two performers move away from the camera, the film still rolls, so our focus remains with the screen instead of with the talented duo.

Anna Yates' design and background could very well be a movie set, with its compact worlds of sitting rooms, dressing areas and out of the blue props. Married with Emma Jones’ lighting design, the space is chic and dramatic.

The piece is captivating but confusing, much like an obsession. It’s a layered celebration and exploration of a love of film and of another person, and whatever other feelings come along the way.

Ferguson and Barton @ Platform, Glasgow, run ended