Theatre review: The Riot of Spring, Glasgow

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AFTER the intense reflection on the current wave of sex-abuse scandals that shaped Rob Drummond’s recent Traverse hit, Quiz Show, I suppose he might be permitted the odd moment of artistic introspection.

The Riot of Spring - Tramway, Glasgow

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All the same, there is something truly mind-blowing about the strange collision between focused political fury and sheer creative self-absorption that characterises his new show.

Inspired by the centenary of Stravinsky’s hugely controversial ballet The Rite Of Spring, Drummond’s show, created and performed by him, with dancer Robbie Synge and musician Peter Nicholson, seeks to reflect on some themes of the ballet, including the sacrifice of the young and the frenzy of the tribe, and on the whole idea of originality in art. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first of these two strands, linking the rage and ritual of The Rite Of Spring to the riots of 2011, and the subsequent harsh punishment of the people involved, seems more powerful and substantial than the second.

So, Drummond’s 60-minute show is at its strongest when he produces a sudden blast of fierce political poetry, or when the three men, in matching grey hoodies, create a beautifully choreographed reflection in movement on the mood of the riots; at its weakest when it messes about with audience participation, and chats on about why the show cannot, in fact, feature any of Stravinsky’s music. The pace is sometimes dilatory, the content sometimes over-dependent on an audience of arts professionals obsessed with the minutiae of their own business. Yet there are moments when this piece soars into pure political poetry, weaving words and sound, light and movement, into a beautiful and complex cry of protest.

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