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FringeReview Scotland 2015


Govanhill Theatre Group

Genre: Community Theatre

Venue: Govanhill Baths


Low Down

From the darkness emerge three young voices attached to three young people who, at the mid-twenties stage in their lives are contemplating. That contemplation is delivered through urban poetry, scenes from their desire to rave and avoid IKEA and how much you might miss the familiar of you were ever to leave it. This is a performance with guts – most of it spilled onstage.


This is a piece that takes a bit of work. We have three young quality performers who deliver the urban poetry with panache and passion which leads into the scenes between them as they go on one last rave before they seem destined to repeat the experience despite, perhaps because of the conundrums of their lost dreams. This is a text which meanders from street level anger to highly polished frustration. At all levels Kate Tempest’s words work. We are given comedy amongst such obvious drug induced fugues and led on a Chekhovian tour of doing nothing just because… it never dips but tries to maintain that strong connection between the audience and the performers.

Of those performers – all three – Gillian Massey, Stewart Campbell and Douglas Nixon – deliver impassioned performances that have you trotting along behind in admiration. At no time did their connection with the text dip; that was no mean feat for it is one heck of a text. Perhaps at times they needed some form of colour with that connection as at times the pace was a little relentless and therefore we got lost in their anger when a pause would have helped.

It was here that I perhaps began to get twitchy. There was something not quite working here. Bruce Downie’s direction – a veteran of over 20 years at this game – had created a believable and more than competent flow. I still felt a lack of sparkle though this show keeps us engaged and the performers don’t achieve that level of performance in isolation. Perhaps it was the set which was sparse but I have enjoyed sparse sets on a regular basis. No matter what it was the performance became, at times, uneven and irregular. The rhythm of the poetry became delivered at such a pace and with vitality that the contrast with the scenes ought to have been simple and complimentary; but it wasn’t.

What did annoy me a little was the lighting – I struggled to get why it was on and what happened to make it go off. There seemed to be darkness at times to mark the ends of episodes but it did not seem to have much rhyme or reason behind it – it may be simply me that didn’t like it.

What Govanhill Theatre Group do – thoroughly – deserve is praise for taking this type of performance on. After the closure of venues like G12 and Ramshorn in Glasgow we need not just new venues for theatre in Glasgow but genuinely creative community theatre groups to fill them. Govanhill may have already done the obvious and performed the Steamie… in a Glasgow Steamie … but they have also brought us a show that I saw last year – Hyperion – that was far from perfect but gave us insight into their clear artistic vision. Many community theatre ventures drip into am dram safety levels but this does genuinely feel like a movement in the right direction; the quality they achieve feels like it to. Worthy of support – absolutely. One thing though if you do go – wrap up warm – it’s awfully cold inside…


Show Website

Govanhill Theatre Group