FringeReview Scotland 2017
One gay Muslim from Edinburgh, an Asian from Maryhill, one man born of a catholic mother and army father from Belfast and the atypical Glaswegian hardman awake to tell their stories from childhood to the point of breaking. In between there are stories of delinquency, disruption and angst from their own communities, the communities which they serve and the people around them they should have trusted.
We are presented with four narratives which are interwoven around the fabric of exposing yourself and your stories whilst showing how angst develops into anxiety though on the surface confidence is still demonstrated. All four stories were there to be engaged with, listened to and learnt from. Whilst many of the events within these stories were dramatic in and of themselves as a whole they built towards a climax which was pretty impressive.
I did feel there was an unevenness between the stories but that may be simply down to me being a man in his fifties watching men much younger describe their stories in graphic detail and not necessarily being able to identify with them all, or alternatively finding the ones that are dissimilar to me more compelling. I loved both the Asian and Muslim tales and felt they added so much. Perhaps the over familiarity of the Glasgow hardman left me floundering as I had heard it all before but in the context of the rest it was easy to see resonance and commonality. The anger and anxiety brought to the surface through self-destruction as a place that was acceptable to those around you was craved and fought against in equal measure.
In terms of direction there were areas of movement which were more successful than others. Once we got the image of awakening at the beginning, from slumber and then being emotionally stunted, the success of the playground and being a child was aggressively replaced by dance and gang mentality, before isolation and loneliness. It was not always as successful as it could be though I did like the swings, the playground games and aspects of the night club but sometimes the visual motifs were a little inconsistent. Where they worked, like the physical mirroring in the beginning, it was very powerful and held the message in a physical form that underscored effectively the messages being portrayed.
The soundscape added to this overall imagery and we got some great lighting effects throughout which used the space to its best effect; in the Counting House and in the round was just the right context in which to place this dramatic challenge.
I particularly liked the ending as it left you… The description of driving the car and then letting go whilst you do the counting brought home starkly the possible consequences of not finding the right and appropriate intervention. That one story became their ending was highly effective in bringing the whole performance into sharp focus.
Presented as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, One Mississippi delivers a message securely in the context of an insecure life for men in Scotland today. Both as a metaphor and as a theatrical response this is an effective set of tales worth hearing, again, and again, and again.