Theatre preview: Mischief La-Bas to explore the dark side of nursery rhymes
The Trongate in Glasgow is a street full of history. Running west from the point where the old High Street winds down into the Saltmarket, it’s been a place associated for centuries with the teeming and sometimes violent street life of one of the world’s great industrial cities, where people of all nations surged up from the docks along the river in search of work and new lives, or just a drink, some company, and a chance to buy and sell in Paddy’s Market, a few yards to the south. Today, it’s the home of the Tron Theatre, based in an old church built over a plague-pit; but a century ago, its most famous place of entertainment was the Britannia Panopticon, an astonishing music hall with a basement menagerie of wild animals, scene of Stan Laurel’s first stand-up comedy act. And it’s in and around the magic, crumbling space of the Panopticon – still standing above the local amusement arcade, and cherished by a dedicated group of volunteers – that Scotland’s leading outdoor theatre company Mischief La-Bas is about to conjure up its latest show, an unsettling study of the dark side of the nursery rhymes we all learned as children, set in the Panopticon and in the dark lanes around it.