REVIEW:The Golden Arm Theatre Project by Lorna Irvine

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaIn the week where our hero David Bowie passed away, a music gig / theatre production hybrid is a welcome proposition.Each play performed tonight is inspired by a favourite song. A cheeky choice of intro tune in the form of FFS’ wry Collaborations Don’t Work starts this experiment, as the actors take to the stage with the band Golden Arm.The attention to detail is nice: ‘set lists’ with mocked-up beer stains are placed on the seats.

The trio of actors- Kim Allan, Isobel McArthur and David James Kirkwood, are excellent, handling tonal shifts effortlessly.Paul Brotherston’s direction is evenly paced. McArthur’s play The Story of Chicken Girl sees Allan as a dead-eyed fast-food worker and McArthur a manipulative interloper, and Meghan Tyler’s tale Cyberberg  tackles the everyday paranoia induced by social media to hilarious and somewhat deranged effect.

Such a project is a little awkward- the audience are very warm and polite, but can’t really dance because of the structure of the pieces. As the band re-tune, we hear the inner monologues of each actor, a la Peep Show.This is an effective way around the moments in-between songs- slyly skewering the eggshell-like egos of fragile actors.

But it’s Clare Duffy’s tense ‘headliner’, if you will, Barcelona, that crackles with the rock ‘n’roll spirit, as a gay young hedonist, portrayed by Kirkwood, recounts his naked meanderings around Barcelona, and the increasingly dissonant music wraps around his narrative until the unexpected conclusion.

As for the music, it’s just great- Golden Arm sound effervescent, with more than a touch of the early swagger of Postcard Records.Tony Hart’s Lonely Hearts Club isn’t just a smart title, but immensely infectious indie pop.

Final track It’s Over is gorgeous, emulating the graceful,elegiac songs of The Velvet Underground’s third album.

The Bowie tributes are lovely too, and very appropriate. Boys-and girls-keep swinging.

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