With a lot of blatant drama criticising the negative effects of modern society; climate change, economic disasters, water shortages and political revolutions, an alluring mystique seems to surround Peapod Productions‘ take on Alistair Rutherford’s new drama The Garden. As a man strolls uninvited into a large garden at the back of a house, the owners come to understand and identify the reasons for his intrusion. Centring on two sons, James and Alex, the play is an examination of relationship fragility, interaction and ‘the effects of too much love’.
Under the direction of Keith Hutcheon, this play seems like it has a bit of everything. With its ambiguity nodding towards a kind of 1920s whodunit, the unravelling plot and potential secrecy are balanced and weighted against an almost subtle melodrama which underpins the play. At its heart is an examination of emotion, and the action may well be exaggerated to draw out the idiosyncratic nature of our passions and desires. Anchoring this is its site-specific location: by touring to gardens over the summer, there’s a charm about this piece which relays our affections to nature itself, and to the capricious, almost chaotic fundamentals which govern the world.
All of these elements give the play depth, layering and intelligence. It’s not just an exploration of intrusion, family institutions or love itself, but a comment on our connection with nature and the parallels between the industrial world and the environment. So we’re left with a tenacious duality: on the one hand there’s a magnification of the establishments which govern our upbringing, and at the same time, an opportunity to immerse theatre in the natural world. Both manage to relate themselves to contemporary society; the first in our questioning of how we learn social values, the second in our appreciation of a world which is being threatened by the inconvenient truths we are so adamant to ignore.
15-19 June at 7:30pm and 18-19 June at 3pm
The Secret Garden at South Leith Parish Church, Edinburgh (Leith Festival)
Tickets: Tel. 0131 5550501 or online at www.leithfestival.com
17 July at 3pm
Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh
Tickets: Tel. 0131 5569579 or buy online at www.scottishstorytellingcentre.co.uk
20-21 July at 3pm and 7pm
Henley Fringe Festival, Henley-on-Thames
Tickets: Tel. 01491 578631 or buy online at www.henleyfringe.org
6 August at 3pm
The Walled Garden at Howden Park Centre, Livingston
Tickets: Tel. 01506 777666 or buy online at www.howdenparkcentre.co.uk
9-13 August at 7pm
The Lodge Garden, North Berwick (Fringe by the Sea)
Tickets: Buy online at www.fringebythesea.co.uk