By Veronika Kallus
The Anatomy Lecture Theatre in Summerhall provides once again a stunning background, this time the setting for laying bare the anatomy of a mind itself before a closely drawn in audience.
Minimal but superbly managed lighting and thrown in shadows create the desolate atmosphere of outback Québécois Canada – endless, windswept fields, isolated trees, ‘gossiping bitches’ and dirty brats. Yet within this vast, gruelling emptiness is Caroline, mother of four – soon to be five, – warm, caring, unpretentious.
“Hello, I’m Caroline”, and “Hello, I’m new in town” mark the first contact of what is to become a gentle, fragile, unlikely friendship between Caroline and the narrator of Stellar Quines’ story ‘The List’. Maureen Beattie stars as a woman who tries to make her new country life existence bearable after hopes to reawaken closeness to her husband fail. She writes a list. Lists. Lists over lists. Listing trivial things and important tasks, reaching from ‘laundry’ and ‘cook’ to ‘buy new hat’ and ‘presents’. Anything to control her life, her thoughts, her desperation. Yet – she can’t escape the landscape. Caroline becomes her – first suffered, then tolerated and eventually necessary – friend. She asks her for a favour. She puts it on a list. She remembers it. She thinks it’s not that important. She neglects it. She never does it. She regrets.
Maureen Beattie delivers a haunting presence in an intimate setting. The audience comes eye to eye with guilt and frustration. The winds sweeps across the plains while seasons come and go. A strong story, a clear stage, a confronting actress. It touches down to the core.
Adding to the intimacy into which the audience is allowed, feedback is requested after the performance, permitting a close insight into the ways in which Stellar Quines works. The List forms part of a trilogy, with the second and third part hopefully staged over the next few years. Definitely shows to look out for.