theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…
Kicking off in St Andrews before embarking on tour to venues in Scotland and England, Stellar Quines’ latest offering is The Unconquered, an hour-and-a-half piece about the futility of revolution. The themes and execution of the play evoke memories of Theatre Modo’s Ubu, or in some ways, the Traverse’s Petrol Jesus Nightmare #5 from last summer.
When revolution disrupts the lives of a rather provincial nuclear family, the parents (Jane Guernier and Kevin McMonagle) bemoan the impending loss of their status and possessions while their punky, spunky daughter (Pauline Turner) laments how, despite her belief in and excitement about the ideas of the revolutionaries, she was unable to take part. The nation’s right to self-determination is undercut by meddling outsiders and their armed forces, and a soldier from the liberating army crashes into the bombed-out home. As the family starts a slow plod toward starvation, the daughter berates her parents’ lack of action, and their cowardice in the face of their oppressors. They surrender, and she is assaulted by the soldier.
The Unconquered is the story of her defiance and the struggle both she and her mother fight to avoid their increasing victimization by the men and society around them. Ultimately, the girl has her victory – but at a disastrous cost.
There are obvious political overtones to this piece, and Betts’ language is so poetic, with its repetitions of words and phrases, that the scenes play out on a plane of hyper-reality. The ideas are deceptively simple, put together in a sort of crystallized structure where the final product has a complexity far greater than the sum of its parts. The elements of the production come together nicely, and where there is real victory here is in the marriage of Betts’ dialogue with designer Keith McIntyre’s black-ink-outline set and cut-out props. Both these create a lens whereby The Unconquered can be viewed from a direct, child-like perspective. This is a world of blacks and whites, and rights and wrongs – and although many of the conflicts are framed in uncertainty, it is a world of very few (if any) shades of grey.
It is monumentally gratifying to see a work which does not preach to its audience, which holds up a swatch of situations and propositions, and unapologetically explores each to the limits of their potential.
The piece is unflinchingly clinical, with only one or two exceptions, and while it would have been easier to sympathize with the characters if they had shown a bit more tenderness and humanity toward one another, nothing in the production makes me think the company desired for their audiences to view the characters as people rather than tropes. Even the character designations – GIRL, MOTHER, FATHER, and SOLDIER – limit the personal sense an audience member could gain from each of them.
Bett’s work is both dry and humorous, and the ideas explored by the company are engaging and important ones. The Unconquered does not exactly scale new heights of creative expression, but it does tread some familiar ground in a blunt, powerful fashion. Ultimately, it is what it is: incisive, and refreshing in the manner of a quick slap of cold water – and in this its characters and ideas are as unapologetic as one might expect.
Rachel Lynn Brody © 2007
Originally published on R&V on 18-02-07
Food & Wine
~ my everyday life through the lens of my camera ~
Helping Improve Lives
Vintage Inspired Paper Crafts & Digital Design
A journey through life in Southwest France
Historical Fiction with a French Flavour
Living life in the in-between with a slightly visible disability
Writer. Poet. ELearning Instructor & Narrative Designer: Researching Fandom Through Literature, Folklore, Game Studies, Pop Culture & Visual Media.
Daily Reflections from My Home and Garden
The Power of Story
Unlocking the Door to Your Past
Not just a blog, a philosophy
by Jack Monroe, bestselling author of 'A Girl Called Jack'
Realist, writer, reader, reviewer and rocker.
The Real England is a concise, direct, and not-so-gentle window into the depths of the leftovers of the world’s once greatest empire. It is told from the perspective of one lone (or not so lone) long term visitor. It informs one of the dregs of the country and helps to explain quaint British oddities such as the crack addicted chav.
Artists, Writers and Visionaries Blog on the Unique and Ordinary
Collected works and other excuses from a textile obssessive
has random thoughts
Airborne, Seadwellers and Landlubbers Lives
Working with dead people
Writing - Loving What I Do and Doing What I Love!
the darker side to sedge808
Photographs, music and writing about daily life. Contact: email@example.com
Creative Intuitive from New Zealand
Family Saga Fiction by Adrienne Morris
Burgers, Books, Music, Movies, Offbeat Adventures & Pop Culture!
theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013...
Candid cultural comments from the Isles of Wonder
Horror, Science Fiction, Comic Books and More
Traveling the World Through Others
A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.
Art, Literature, Poetry, Politics and a little History
Travel and Wildlife Adventures
Writer & Author
it's all about the story, possums...
Observations of the illusion through the eyes of wonder...
Adventures in Watercolor Painting and Sketching, Watercolour Magazine, with Charlie O'Shields
Poetry, Other Words, and Cats
The Bridge between two countries
A lifestyle blog with a little bit of everything.
A personal exploration of autism from a brother’s perspective, including family relationships, philosophy, neuroscience, mental health history and ethics
Entertainment, travel and lifestyle blog
Founder of the Three Things Method of Storytelling