Theatre reviews: Etiquette | Motor Vehicle Sundown


AT A TABLE in the Glasgow bar known as Stereo, a man and a woman gaze into each other's eyes; their conversation is intense, awkward, disturbing. The woman is me; and because I have come alone, the man is a production manager from the Arches, playing the role of my companion in the latest Arches Offsite production, celebrating the company's temporary exile from its home. We wear headphones; voices tell us what to say, and what to do with the strange collection of tiny items and human figures on the table between us.

This is Etiquette, a 30-minute show created by the London and Brighton based company Rotozaza, who specialise in involving audiences in their shows through sound, and aural instructions. But what's remarkable here is the strength of the show's content, which uses the inspiration of Ibsen – notably the final scene of A Doll's House – to explore some weird fractures in the relationship between men and women, notably their inability to "hear" one another, even when they're sitting at the same caf table.

Then it's off down the street to the roof of a multi-storey car park, where Andy Field stands guard over his new installation-show Motor Vehicle Sundown. Specially written for the Arches season, this show places an audience of two in the front seat of an old car, and – through a recorded soundtrack – explores from an American and a British point of view both the exhilaration of the automobile age and its doomed, car-crash quality. In a sense, Field's in-car installation is incidental to the sheer strength of his script, which provides the backbone of the show. Not incidental, though, is the setting, on the deserted top level of the car-park, as the last light fades over central Glasgow; on a landscape shaped by the age of car, that may one day look as archaic as the ruins of ancient Babylon.