Director: David Greig
Reviewer: R G Balgray
Variety – it died some decades ago, right? Well, no; Saturday night television has demonstrated that the corpse just won’t lie down, and an uncanny ability to morph into different forms, cannibalising other arts along the way. This might have been a starting point for the innovation of Lyceum Variety Nights, collaborating with Flint &Pitch to bring together “Musicians, Poets and Theatre-Makers” in an evening’s entertainment.
A sympathetic audience not quite knowing what to expect (but willing to give friendly support) might have taken a clue from the stage set (borrowed from last week’s production): a pile of varied household fixtures and fittings, jumbled together and piled up to represent a “warts and all” life. But also an overwhelming sense of energy. Last night’s performance might have taken this as a mantra. With its two sassy host/comperes – Sian Bevan and Jenny Lindsay – and some sure-fire spoken word winners (Christopher Brookmyre’s splendidly irreverent short story referencing a school Shakespeare trip, or Luke Wright’s enjoyably scabrous performance poetry, or Jenna Watt’s extract from Faslane), there was certainly a fizz factor. And a range of music too: quirky chansonerie from A New International juxtaposed with sensitive soul-searching from Emma Pollock’s new album. Something of a far older musical tradition too, when Andrew Greig and Leo Glaister whipped together a delicate confection of fragments of poetry, ballad, and nonsense song. Spoken Word Artist Rachel Amey completed the running list with her “heart on the sleeve” monologues. Quite a range, then? Well, yes – though a stated aim mentioned towards the end, of “democratising theatre”, almost certainly made some headway – goodness, there was even a raffle! In practice, this will undoubtedly mean seeking out a younger audience, and marketing in that general direction – and not knowing what to expect. A curate’s egg, then? Unavoidably so.
Reviewed on 6 November 2016, the next Variety Night will take place on 6 February 2017 | Image: Contributed