Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
August, 2000

Canada's One Yellow Rabbit company return to the Traverse, not with the Leonard Cohen tribute show seen elsewhere in Britain this summer (thus leaving the field clear for Arthur Smith), but with a bizarre, convolutedly introspective piece by Daniel Danis, subtitled The Song Of The Say-Sayer.

The four Lasting children, orphaned when a bolt of lightning snakes through their house and kills both their parents, raise themselves as a tightly-knit group, the "Lasting Love Society". Sister Naomi, given the gift of song by the lightning, leaves home to make it as a country singer; when she returns, she is all but comatose. Her three brothers, psychically welded togther by that earlier storm, take it upon themselves to tend to her, but tensions both internal and external threaten to cleave the family asunder.

The performances are compelling and concentrated; at one point the brothers pass the time waiting for Naomi's return with a tightly choreographed routine of fidgeting, then run the same moves in reverse. Snatches of country music and Quebecois-Acadian song punctuate the proceedings. However, if Danis has a specific message or subtext, it is largely passed by in a mist of the unspecifically evocative. There is no real dramatic arc to the proceedings, just a big beginning, a big ending and some events in between. The Say-Sayer itself a miniature model of the Lastings' house which the brothers seem to believe has the power to store words and emotions is an intriguing symbol, but it never quite becomes clear of what.

Written for the Financial Times Web site,

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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