Choreographer: Charlotte Mclean
Charlotte Mclean’s one-woman show And draws together music, dance, poetry, and prose into an intimate, powerful, and deeply affecting 45 minutes of self-revelation. As an autobiographical expression of who an artist is, and the things that matter to her, performance rarely comes as intense or immediate as this. The feel is of someone stopping and assessing her life, and of asking an audience to listen and watch as she bares herself entirely, body and soul.
Mclean’s love of her art began with childhood Scottish Highland dancing classes, and it is with a formal Sword Dance that she kicks off And. What follows is a fluid and contemporary mixture of jazz, modern, and ballet movements, interspersed with sometimes melancholic and sometimes joyful spoken musings on the things that matter in one woman’s life. These range from the things she salutes, among which are family, Scottish heritage, and friends, to the things she fears. She talks of what drives and motivates her; of the events that have happened to her, good and bad; of her demands, hopes and anxieties for the future; of her weekends; and of the people she likes and esteems. It sounds, and is, a deceptively and daringly simple theatrical conceit. But so flawless is its execution, aided by brilliant lighting from Emma Jones and sound engineering from Julius Oppermann, that it is never less that entirely and completely captivating.
Mclean is not afraid to take risks. Midway through the show comes a fierce and radical reworking of the Sword dance, performed naked and accompanied by a starkly poetic spoken commentary on some of her darkest experiences. This show is probably not for the faint-hearted. But it is rare to be part of an audience so entirely engaged with a performer’s emotional journey, so if you can take it, do.
Close to the end of the performance Mclean calls her granny in Arbroath, Rose, live. We listen in on the conversation as it happens. There is no artifice or scripting here. It is a woman talking to her granny about her show. So intimately involved with the performer do we feel by this point, that what might appear contrived, seems natural. It is that kind of show. See it if you can.
Reviewed on 10 September 2022