Accidental Nostalgia (4 stars)

This article is from 2009.

Accidental Nostalgia

The past is a foreign country music

Underneath this bizarre, eccentric and hypnotic little operetta lies so many of the themes of the old 90s style postmodernism that it really ought not to work. Memory, subjectivity, selfhood and identity; the whole shebang smacks of the Generation X apolitical aesthetic of the self that began to wear thin a decade ago.

Yet it contrives to mesmerise one like a snake swaying to a charmer’s pipe. This is perhaps because of the astonishing dynamism and showmanship of its lead, Cynthia Hopkins, whose pitch perfect tones and soaring clarity of voice put one a little in mind of Patsy Cline, and the amazingly accomplished band who seem to mix rockabilly, alternative country and something like blues with a dexterity born of precision.

The story starts with Hopkins as a bluestocking faux academic with a metallic manner, and moves back and forth through the inevitable American abused childhood to her present as a Western refugee in Morocco. On the way there’s a certain scepticism about a series of neurological and psychoanalytic theories, and some brilliant uses of multimedia projection to illustrate these. And somewhere between the quirky, playful frippery and a darker misanthropic escapism, there’s a tremendous night out.

Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, until 30 Aug 2009 (not 24), 10.30pm, £16–£18 (£11–£12).

Accidental Nostalgia

  • 4 stars

This captivating trip through the past is part meditation, part murder mystery. Driven by honky tonk music and stunning videoscapes, this piece will leave you singing the tunes and cyphering the plot for days after leaving the theatre.

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