Theatre reviews: Family Voices | The Old Lady | The Umbilical Cord

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FAMILY VOICES **** THE OLD LADY **** ROXY ART HOUSE, EDINBURGH THE UMBILICAL CORD *** GLASGOW UNIVERSITY UNION

THIS past weekend marked the tenth anniversary of Polish-Scottish company, Gappad. They presented a series of music sessions, exhibitions and shows at the Roxy Art House in Edinburgh; but the centrepiece was a spectacular 80-minute staging of Harold Pinter's 1981 play Family Voices, performed in a reversed in-the-round staging.

With the audience sitting clustered in the middle of the room, the six actors wandered, raced, ranged and raved along the aisles around the space, using the domestic light of a series of small, plush-coloured table-lamps to explore Pinter's strange story of a man trapped in a rooming house where all the inmates seem to belong to the same family, while his own parents wither with grief at his absence. Sometimes, Iwona Glowinska's production is so loudly expressionistic that Pinter's very English words are lost in the noise. But this is an exciting, intensely theatrical show; it's to be hoped it will soon resurface.

Gappad founder Agnieszka Bresler also appeared at the Roxy over the weekend, in her own thoughtful, touching, and exquisitely-performed 40-minute monologue The Old Lady, a meditation on time, fertility and old age drawn from Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues and Samuel Beckett's Rockabye, among other texts.

And beyond the Gappad weekend, in Glasgow, Theatre Found presented an uneven but sometimes compelling Scottish premiere of Krystyna Kofka's The Umbilical Cord, a recent Polish play remarkably similar to The Old Lady in its fierce obsession with the power of memory; and the compression of time into a single vivid moment, as men and women move towards their deaths.