Director: Maria Oller
Writer: Adrian Osmond
Reviewer: Amy Taylor
As one of the characters in Lung Ha’s The Hold laments, “The past is always present”, but as Maria Oller’s production of Adrian Osmond’s play reveals, the past, while ever-present and always following us is also furiously unforgiving.
Taking place in various rooms and exhibitions in the National Museum of Scotland, The Hold follows Peter (John Edgar) who has held into various items from his life, and is now trying to have them exhibited in the Professor Stone’s (Stephen Tait) museum. But the past events that Peter’s many belongings force him to relieve are difficult, and soon painful memories of Young Peter (Derek Darvell) and his family take on a life of their own.
One of the most astonishing things about Osmond’s The Hold is just how simple, yet beautiful the story behind Peter’s desire to hold onto seemingly every day and useless objects really is, and under Oller’s careful direction, this tale of love, loss, regret and pain becomes so much more. It’s almost difficult to describe just how magical The Hold is, it delves into why we feel the need to cling onto everyday items, it analyses just why we feel the need to put so much sentimental value on our stuff, and reveals just how much power these seemingly powerless bits and pieces have over us. In an increasingly consumer-obsessed society, where we are encouraged to place more value on expensive material possessions than our emotional attachment to them, The Hold is a breath of fresh air, bringing clarity and meaning to our material world.
Set in the pristine surroundings of the National museum on Chambers Street, the contrast between the clean cut marble and crystal clear class that protects the ancient exhibits and Peter’s everyday objects creates a feeling of different worlds, and a sense that the audience are merely visiting this world of memory for a short, but ultimately wonderful length of time. Featuring a number of strong performances, especially from Teri Robb as Peter’s assistant, as well as memorable turns from Darvell and Tait, the unity and respect between the actors is obvious from the very beginning.
Perhaps one of the most original pieces of work to come out of the Scottish theatrical calendar this year, Lung Ha’s The Hold is a unique and very important new piece of performance that showcases the sheer talent of this theatre company, and leaves a lasting memory for the audience to treasure.