Glasgow Mela has been going for a good few years now, and recently has dovetailed with the West End Festival since it relocated to Kelvingrove Park. Saturday this year was a bit of a washout, but when the sun appeared on Sunday I headed down to wander about the various stages, stalls and eateries. The only disappointment is that the queues for food were prohibitively long - they're missing a trick there.
Anyway the stages offered the usual varied stuff from Scottish country dancing (see picture) to magicians, drummers, acrobats and singers. Too many of the people running stalls and the entertainers look like wannabe hippies who've enjoyed a gap year in India and come back as experts (I know many people with a love of India, but they wouldn't come home to Glasgow, wear a bindi and run a stall selling henna tattoos). Curiously the busiest stalls away from food always seem to be those selling material by the yard. It was nice to see it very busy though and there is definitely a much more multi-cultural crowd than all the usual West End types that turn out for all the various festivals, so that can't be a bad thing.
The night before I visited the Mela it had been my pleasure to revisit my student days and skank the night away on The Ferry. I don't think it's the greatest venue in the world, stuck under the Kingston Bridge in a bit of no-man's land with no bars or houses or life nearby, but I like going there for nostalgia sake as I can well remember crossing from Yoker to Renfrew on it in its previous life as the Renfrew Ferry, and years earlier my great auntie was a clippie on the ferry. This was to be the fourth time I've seen Bad Manners, and it was as much fun as the first time.
|Buster Bloodvessel 2012 edition|
|Bad Manners at The Ferry, Glasgow|
When I bought tickets for macb I was expecting a performance by Partick Thistle's mascot, the big cheery bumble bee thing found on our sponsor's flavoured water, but NO. It turns out it was the other macb, William Shakespeare's Macbeth, performed by Alan Cumming for National Theatre of Scotland at the Tramway, and co-directed by John Tiffany (director of The Bacchae, Black Watch and recently winner of a Tony award for Once). I liked The Bacchae , which NTS did in 2007, also directed by John Tiffany, but apart from that and the fact that Alan Cumming flashes his arse in both plays, they have little else in common. Alan Cumming has come a long way from being half of 'Victor and Barry' and Take the High Road's first murder victim. Via Nightcrawler in the X-Men 2, the baddie in Spy Kids 2 to a Tony Award winning performance in Cabaret. In this production of Macbeth he plays all the parts from the play in an mesmerising and exhausting 2 hour performance, with fleeting appearances by two other characters, a female psychiatrist and male nurse.
The setting is a modern day secure psychiatric ward, spectacularly created with high green-tiled walls by Merle Hensel with security
cameras and screens adding to the feeling that the patient being admitted has
committed a terrible crime. The atmosphere of tension is aided by the musical soundscapes of Max Richter used throughout, which I ordered on my way home (I think its from Infra). Alan Cumming
flits between all of the characters convincingly and clearly, flits between man and woman,
sanity and madness and with the vicious murder of MacDuff's wife and children
maybe gives you a window onto the back story of the character in front of you. It
was quite hypnotic and the whole audience was spellbound throughout, and rose to
give him a well deserved ovation at the end. It is a great story, a great play, and a great
production with a great piece of acting at the heart of it all. I hope that it
does well in New York where it heads next after its run at the Tramway. If you get the chance to see it I would heartily recommend that you don't miss the chance. One
thing the New Yorkers miss out on when they see him there in these big performances is not
having the Alan Cumming memories of having seen him doing Victor and Barry's Tron pantos. Ah, those were the days.