Long Time Dead
Life on the edge
This article is from 2007.
‘On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude.’ With these words, French climber Lionel Terray highlights the addictive escapism of climbing. His sentiments are shared by the characters in Rona Munro’s moving new play about men rising above their problems and the monotony of everyday life through climbing.
In it, climbing trio Grizzly (Garry Cooper), Gnome (Lesley Hart) and Dog (Jon Foster) are on their way to the summit when an accident occurs reminding us how fragile life can be, especially in these extreme conditions. In and out of hospital, Grizzly meets a widowed nurse (Jan Pearson) who temporarily helps him to forget his grief over the death of his brother in a climbing accident. Unfortunately, she is unable to let go of her own so he carries on climbing.
It’s a story of passion, grief, adrenalin and friendship. It’s about pushing yourself to the limit both physically and emotionally, literally living on the edge, and dealing with death on a daily basis. The bond between the friends grows as they climb, trading banter about the worst films they’ve ever seen or their favourite rock star, and when Gnome isn’t there, typical male chat takes over to distract them from the hazards of the mountain which in turn distracts them from the pain within their own lives. It examines how grief never really leaves you but evolves and manifests itself in different ways over time. Roxana Silbert’s production is set in a pure white cocoon, which doubles as a clinical ward. With the wind blowing and mist rising from the ice, Miriam Buether’s set is visually stunning. As the characters actually scale the walls, with each drop or stumble your stomach drops with them. It’s a powerful piece that will lift you above the troubles of your own life.
Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, until 26 Aug (not 13, 20), times vary, £16 (£5–£11) .