Showing @ Briggait,Glasgow until 23rd Oct.
Billed as “part gig, part road movie, part theatre,” Playback sets out its stall as something different from the typical theatre-going experience. And while everything in this immersive, site-specific production works in support of Davey Anderson’s gripping narrative, stylistically it does indeed feel more like a gig than a play, with the actors mic-ed up, the sound technicians fully visible and the action performed fluidly in promenade in the chilly, immense Briggait (an old Victorian fish-market turned artist studio complex). “Road movie” might be stretching it a bit, but in fairness, while “multimedia experience” would have been more accurate, the nausea-factor alone makes me glad they didn’t use the “M” word to promote the show.
Playback tells the interweaving Glasgow-set stories of six young people, focussing mainly on Harun (Asif Khan), an outsider haunted by questions surrounding the death of his father when he was a child. His life is disrupted by the reappearance of his dodgy uncle Shakil (Paul Chaal), and by a chance meeting with fellow outsider Rhia (Sharita Scott), bored and restless in her call-centre job and troubled by what could be glimpses of the future.
In the hands of a lesser company the fruits of the workshopping process could have resulted in an episodic mess, but Ankur’s approach, Davey Anderson’s brilliant writing and Paddy Cunneen’s skilled directorial work succeeds in melding the disparate elements into a coherent, tightly-knit evening of entertainment. This is a world away from stuffy “luvvie-darling” theatre and feels hip, happening, resolutely contemporary but never blandly “issue”-driven. Wrap up warm and go see Playback. Bring your mates who don’t go to the theatre. Bring your theatre mates to show them something genuinely different, exciting and important. Bring your granny. Bring everyone you know.