Author, Composer, Soldier-Of-A-Sort
- Alistair Maxwell
- 24 August 2018
One-woman show about the life of composer Marion M Scott and poet and composer Ivor Gurney
Jan Carey's one-woman show follows the life and story of composer Marion M Scott, and her friendship with Ivor B Gurney as he studied music composition, fought in the WWI, and spent his remaining years fighting his deteriorating mental state.
The show starts strongly. Carey is immediately engaging, and holds the audience in the palm of her hands. It is clear from the outset that this is a passion project, not least because of all the compiling of archived letters that occurred for this show to be written. But as the show continues it is made clear that, other than a talented actress, the show has no tricks to offer. There is no theatricality, save for the occasional wander around the stage or character change. The set is a simple chair and table. The compositions of Ivor Gurney are not incorporated into the show, but instead puncture the piece at random intervals, leaving Jan and the audience to awkwardly listen to music not explained enough for any emotional investment.
The show's intention to shed light on forgotten figures is bold but ultimately misguided. Little sympathy is evoked for Gurney, even as he descends into madness and vagrancy. His experience in the first world war is documented but emotionally neglected. The focus is not placed on the horror of war or the difficulties of readjusting into society, but instead on tediously quoting letters between the pair, verbatim.
The much more interesting figure of Scott, despite being the only person on the stage, is left in the shadows. Fascinating stories, such as her convincing the BBC to audition both females and males into their new orchestra, are skimmed over with barely a second of triumph. At best, this is a vaguely interesting documentary, ideal for radio; at worst, a stale drag through personal history.
Author, Composer, Soldier-Of-A-Sort, Pleasance Courtyard, 19-27 Aug, 2pm, £8.50-£11 (£7.50-£10).