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Theatre Review: Sonata for a man and a boy, Traverse, Edinburgh

Sonata for a Man and a Boy Traverse Theatre

Sonata for a Man and a Boy Traverse Theatre

  • by Joyce McMillan
 

Theatre

IT LASTS barely 40 minutes, this new show for young audiences created by the MacRobert Theatre with musician Greg Sinclair, director Michael Sherin and designer Karen Tennant; yet it’s a deep, rich, and thought-provoking piece of theatre, full of beauty and playfulness.

The two performers are Sinclair himself, and Bartek Bialucki, a young cellist with the El Sistema Big Noise Orchestra and the show takes the form of a cello lesson that keeps exploding into laughter, rebellion, role-switching, and rough theatrical poetry.

So there’s physical comedy, as the two performers become entangled in their cellos and bows; there’s racing and chasing and music, from simple scales to haunting melodies, played with feeling by both man and boy.

And just occasionally, there are falling shoes, and a turning towards a huge, frightening presence at the back of the stage; although whether this is a glimpse of the holocaust that once slaughtered so many musicians, or simply of the looming adult world, is a question left open.

What’s most moving, though, is to see the deep connection between teacher and pupil, man and boy – and the man in the boy, the boy in every man – rescued from the torrent of suspicion that now surrounds such relationships.

Whatever threats lie ahead, this is a story of how the pure love of music binds generations together, and guides the boy on his path to manhood as well as giving the man the space to play that every human being needs, in youth, in age and in the middle of life.

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