Theatre Venue of the Month: Macrobert
Here's to forty more years
Macrobert's October programme is a strong reminder that the Central Belt has more than just two cities: touring companies, including the controversial David Hughes Dance and Icarus Theatre Collective, make it a regular stop on their trips around the country, while it accomodates homegrown talents such as the Stirling and Bridge of Allan Operatic Society, who promise an evening of Musical Showstoppers. With one of the best medium scale auditoriums in Scotland, Macrobert has always attracted companies with a international reputation, even as it retains a close connection with local performers and has developed a reputation for serious investment in future audiences.
From Hughes' Last Orders through to Icarus' bracing and brutal reinvention of Macbeth, Macrobert has lured these companies away from the M8 corridor for the benefit of Stirling's audiences. Last Orders is certainly the most discussed choreography of the year: during the Fringe, it split critics and audiences with the same intensity as more famous controversies. The anger of responses which accused the National Theatre of Scotland and the Traverse of insulting the audience suggests that this Al Seed production has, at least, a ferocity to excite emotions. More positive critics have noted that the skills of the performers is never in doubt and that making a work about cannibal Sawney Bean was never supposed to be an exercise in expectations fulfilled in the first place.
Icarus Theatre Collective, who work with live musicians and rescue Shakespeare from traditional interpretations through a visceral mix of styles, add to the thread of violence and destruction that runs through the month's bill. Kes, the latest production from acclaimed Catherine Wheels, revisits the famous film and novel and reflects on the brutality of comprehensive education in an uncaring world; Sell A Door get back to nature with Lord of the Flies. Whether this programme is a happy accident of touring timetables, or a representation of how the credit crunch is encouraging a new sentiment in Scottish theatre, Macrobert is offering chances for considering the nature of human violence as part of its forty year anniversary. There's even an Occasional Cabaret about the Apocalypse.
Fortunately, there is more than just bloodshed. Fringe hit A Conversation with Carmel is an intelligent mixture of community and professional dance, starring octogenarian dancer Diana Paine-Myers and gently reflecting on age and memory. Scottish Opera show their lighter side with celebrity satire and burlesque influenced dancing in Orpheus and Eurydice, and Vanishing Point's companion to Interiors, Saturday Night, sees the company get back to their intimate best. There's even an aerial drama coming up from Brighton, Mindwalking, which fuses script and acrobatic display to look at the impact of Alzheimers on a family.
Macrobert has traditionally been between two worlds: whether competing with Glasgow or Edinburgh venues, or providing something for Stirling audiences, it has never flinched at supporting new, imaginative performance.