Last Tuesday night saw the Tandem Writing Collective back at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow with another night of comedy, tragedy, music and song. We’ve said it before, but if you want an evening of theatre which is immediate, vibrant and vital then these are nights not to miss.
The Tandem Writing Collective consist of three playwrights – Jennifer Adam, Amy Hawes and Mhairi Quinn – who regularly put on events in Glasgow and Edinburgh which allow them to showcase their latest work in front of a live audience. With a cast and crew who have only a day to rehearse, they are fizzing with creative ideas and the sort of first-night nerves that heighten the atmosphere in the room. They get to the heart of what is magical about live theatre – a sense of the unknown and that anything could happen.
The evening started with ‘Air’ (Mhairi Quinn), a two-hander with John Love and Sarah McCardie as Greg and Lianne, two people coming to terms with a terrible event and having to deal with guilt, grief, and the need to apportion blame. It’s a powerful piece which uses the theatre space fully, involving the audience from the start.
Next is ‘Mosaics’ (Jennifer Adam) which examines the dangers of unquestioningly accepting the ‘progress’ of science, without full consideration of the ethical and moral implications attendant. What starts as the promise of a relatively small medical procedure, undertaken with the best of intentions, becomes literally life-changing for all those involved. The phrase “Your life in their hands”, takes on an unsettling and disturbing meaning.
The first half ends with ‘Home Shopping’ (Mhairi Quinn) which entertainingly spoofs home shopping channels and the promises made for the products they sell. The theatre audience becomes the TV audience, whooping, hollering and cheering in the appropriate places. The product for sale is ‘Bitches Get Stuff Done’, which promises to release your inner bitch and make your life better, while making other’s worse – but you won’t care. It’s a clever piece of writing, making you think as you laugh, something which is not easy to achieve.
The second half continues with ‘Stella The Stargazer’ (Jennifer Adam), where Barry Robertson’s logical and practical boy meets the unfettered imagination and creativity of Stella, a girl who looks at the stars and dreams of another life, with the underlying sense that her present one is at the root of this need to escape.
The night ends in style with ‘Introverts: The Musical’ (book by Amy Hawes, music by Aaron McGregor), which sees the whole cast on stage. Imagine Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ (or ‘The Numskulls’ from The Beezer for older readers) with those internal voices in charge and you have some idea as to the format. Making a musical about being introverted may seem a brave, some may say contrary, choice but it certainly struck a chord with this reviewer, and it would be great to see it expanded to a full-length piece. More Dennis Potter than Rodgers and Hammerstein, it could just be the musical we need right now.
If you haven’t been to the theatre in a while then a night at the Tron with Tandem is the perfect way to reacquaint yourself with what makes it so special. The next opportunity to do so is on the 5th November, and you can find out more here – Tandem @ The Tron.
Cast: John Love, Sarah McCardie, Linda McLaughlin, Kim Allan, Barry Robertson,
Director: Sarah Rose Graber