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CONTEMPORARY DRAMA THICK SKIN, ELASTIC HEART Cumbernauld Theatre, Fri 1 Nov; Craignish Village Hall, Ardfern, Sat 2 Nov, and touring

As op-eds about the evils of millennial culture pile higher and higher, it’s unusual yet refreshing to find a production that speaks to the present generation’s experiences and anxieties. thick skin, elastic heart, writer and director Drew Taylor-Wilson’s upcoming spoken word show with Sonnet Youth, is a pacy, hypnotic fusion of contemporary poetry and performance that seeks to shine a light on an often misrepresented demographic.

‘Our show is all about people that slip through the

cracks, whose stories aren't heard enough and all the sticky issues they face daily,’ Taylor-Wilson explains, calling attention to the lack of ‘accurate representation of what it means to live day-to-day as part of the millennial generation’. By interweaving poetry on the cutting edge of the spoken word scene with more character-driven dialogues, thick skin, elastic heart addresses complex, sensitive issues such as race, queer identity and self-esteem through the polyphony of voices they demand. The result is a kaleidoscopic reflection on the politics

of everyday life, which shifts the audience’s expectations of how theatre and representation work. The current socio-political climate is forcing theatre to evolve ‘by holding creatives accountable for what representation they present on stages, and who is contributing to making that work,’ Taylor-Wilson claims.

By opening up multiple dramatic forms to the zeitgeist's most pressing issues, thick skin, elastic heart is an unmissable reflection on theatre as a site of progressive expression. (Anahit Behrooz)


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SCRIPTED THEATRE I CAN GO ANYWHERE Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Sat 7–Sat 21 Dec

Resisting the temptation to offer an obviously seasonal production, the Traverse’s December show is a typically bold script from Douglas Maxwell that speaks of contemporary concerns: the struggles faced by asylum seekers and the perennial cool of mod culture. Exploring the relationship between an ageing academic and an asylum seeker, I Can Go Anywhere is inspired, says Maxwell, by ‘the anger I felt about how art is always bullied, patronised and overshadowed by politics.’

‘I believe that art is far more important and powerful than politics, and it does an infinite amount more good in people’s lives,’ he explains. ‘But when politics is talking, art has to shut up. And politics is always talking.’

When asylum seeker Jimmy is facing his substantive interview that decides whether he is allowed to stay in the UK he decides that academic Steve is the ideal partner to help him succeed. Immersed in mod culture the working-class movement that has been at the heart of British youth culture since the 1960s Jimmy identifies a ‘Britishness’ that is more than the recitation of historical details.

Maxwell’s style lively, witty and talking about serious ideas with a sense of fun and humour promises to energise this unlikely partnership of fashion and social commentary, and with rising star Eve Nicol directing, Maxwell believes that the production will bring ‘laughter, heartache, a fizzy idea or two . . . and that the intensity of the theatrical experience was worth coming out [for] on a cold night.’ (Gareth K Vile)

124 THE LIST 1 Nov 2019–31 Jan 2020

MUSICAL 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL Edinburgh Playhouse, Tue 12–Sat 16 Nov; reviewed at King's Theatre, Glasgow ●●●●●

Although Patricia Resnick author of the film and its musical adaptation recognises that feminism has been re-energised in the past decade, 9 to 5 still revels in its 1980s setting, humour and philosophy. With the cast dressed in that decade’s distinctive styles (power suits et al), the score evoking a fascination with light rock, and its three heroines exacting revenge on a male chauvinist pig, it majors in retro-chic even as it offers a version of feminist triumph.

From the title song to more thoughtful meditations on identity and desire, Dolly Parton’s music ensures that the audience gets involved, and that the cast (especially Louise Redknapp, Amber Davies and Georgina Castle who play the women resisting their boss’ sexism) get solo showstoppers alongside well-choreographed and dynamic ensemble numbers. While the plot is straight-forward, Resnick’s script allows all of the characters their own development and story arc. If the resolution of the feminist uprising is a little easy, with some unpleasant undertones, the sheer bravura of the musical numbers pushes home a message of empowerment.

It's a lively night out, with a sentimental and moral heart, and nicely balances the demands of a popular musical with a more thoughtful glance back at a time when feminism was articulating its presence in business. (Gareth K Vile)