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" One touch of nature

makes all the world kin "

William Shakespeare

Glasgow Rocks & Stars Over Kabul

September 29th, 2010

I know one has to be cautious about falling in love. Falling in love with cities rather than people is generally safer… and I’ve only done it a few times: Dublin forty years ago, Wellington in New Zealand, and last year Edinburgh. I thought I would remain faithful to my new love – Edinburgh on a sunny day during the festival is just unbeatable – but for the last five days we’ve been in Glasgow and, blessed by the sun and a visit to the heights of nearby Campsie Fells, I have to say it’s a tough choice between the two. There’s no harm in polyamory for cities I reckon, so I’m not going to choose – they’re both blessed with majestic architecture, wide skies, and air you just don’t get in the South.
Scotland has a reputation for the dour – but not in Glasgow, where there’s a friendly zaniness in evidence, as can be seen from this photo of a converted church that houses GOMA, the Gallery of Modern Art. Outside the statue boasts a traffic cone that is constantly replaced whenever anyone knocks it down – the reverse of the way that would normally work!

While we were there the OBOD US East Coast Gathering was going strong, and I should have been there, but instead we were seeing our daughter perform in the last night of the National Youth Theatre’s production ‘Stars Over Kabul’. In a tour-de-force, the 15 strong cast turned Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s new play into a roller-coaster ride of emotion as songs based on Rumi’s poems alternated with a set soaked in moving images of an Afghanistan wrecked by war and a love story that ran through the play which had the confidence to deal with big and heart-rending themes, including the way women were treated by the Taliban and the abuse of boy-dancers. Every so often a chorus would appear offering a narrative commentary from the Otherworld, speaking and gesturing in a sign language invented by the cast, reminiscent of the gesturing Peter Sellars has introduced into his operatic productions. When the spirit of a dead women’s rights activist appeared and spoke from beyond the grave, that was the second time I reached for my handkerchief. The first time was when one of the 15 stars of this production, Sophia Carr-Gomm, began screaming for the boy she loved who left their village with a sinister man who would soon abuse him in Kabul. Powerful powerful stuff and a production that deserves to live on…