Theatre review by Frances Curran • Glasgow Glam Rock Dialogues, part of the Mayfesto season at Glasgow Tron Theatre, 17 May 2017 • In this the fifth of the Glam Rock Dialogues, Davie Archibald is in hell—not any hell—2047 hell after the apocalyptic failure of the human race to prevent us destroying our society.
The bright side is that there is a crack in the space-time continuum and Carl Lavery has been living in the perfect workers’ utopia. They get to meet up one day a year and compare notes. Where did it all go wrong or where did it all go right?
Cue a dialogue, which takes 1967, posits that it was a crucial year impacting society, songs, books, publications, protests and a different way of seeing the world across many different spaces, and that through these mind altering spectacles, the world shifted.
It was after all the ‘the summer of love’. More stream of consciousness than plot, the performance dialogue between the two throws out big academic ideas, creates absurd surrealist images in your head and bursts into song at the faintest flick of a feather boa. Rather appropriately T-Rex’s Get it On.
For those political activists among us, how many times have you sat through an hour-long ‘lead off’ on a theoretical subject of gravitas, the speaker droning on and you quietly wishing someone would beam you up? Glasgow Glam Rock Dialogues is the transporter you were looking for.
In just over an hour, this is a lead off like you have never experienced, encompassing theoretical ideas, debate, humour, music and theatre. Interspersed with seven songs.
In all my years, I have never seen anyone whilst pontificating on how the workers might successfully take power, burst into I’ll Be Your Mirror by the Velvet Underground. Now that would have been surreal. But here in this space, in this time, it works.
Spirit of Marx/Bolan
The performance is not one of your paired back, black curtain two men wearing jumpers in a spotlight numbers, it is a visual delight, a moving film backdrop constantly changing, exaggerated make up, an engaging narrator in the ‘Angel of History’ that is Jen Cunnion and a glam rock live band, including a harp.
We don’t get a definitive answer as to how to create that workers’ utopia or avoid planet annihilation. That’s not the intention.
It creates debate, discussion and disagreement which carries on after the performance in the bar. It is an unfinished performance, it is supposed to leave you thinking and mulling.
This is the age of TED talks and academic superstars throwing the rope ladder over the gatekeepers of faculty knowledge to engage an increasingly curious public, but the man on the TED stage is still the conveyor of all knowledge.
Glasgow Glam Rock Dialogues shares knowledge and sends you an invitation to participate in the dialogue with whichever response you choose.
It makes you think about what just happened long after the performance, it throws up questions mid-performance; above all, it is fun and funny and works on several different levels.
I have seen three of the five Dialogues and the project is growing in ambition. There were no feather boas or silver platform shoes in the first.
It was a dialogue about a universal basic income and it threw up questions on the nature of work in a capitalist society, citing Marx and his labour theory of value, stuff I’m still thinking about, the second was Commune, now that was quite a spectacle, a visual delight for the senses, I learned loads and watched a honed and developed, dialogue about the state and power between anarchism and Marxism which transcended time.
They identify the themes, then play with them avoiding the usual left tribalism.
Carl and Davie exude an easy camaraderie; both have a stage presence and luckily they can both sing; Carl playing the cool as f*** Sorbonne guy in the cravat and Davie the funny as f***, knowing, more gallus Glaswegian, with a doctorate in his back pocket.
It works. Sign me up—I want to join that party.