Allotment ***

Allotment is a flexible experiment currently happening for single nights in Govan’s Shopping Centre.  It has the backing of the National Theatre of Scotland and is produced by both Angie Bual and Caroline Newall.  Bual and Newall’s process seems to be to pick themes, organise artistic teams and then let them run wild with ideas and concepts that culminate into a one-night production.  It’s an excellent idea full of promise.

I missed the first but was kindly given a tour of the performance space afterwards.  What I saw, both in person and on the NTS’s website, hinted at a fun experience that mixed art installation and theatre.  There’s a third scheduled for February using The Arches as a co-producer, and heaven knows what that’s going to bring forth (and I say that kindly and with anticipation).

I did make it to the 5th of December event, which had the theme of Gaming, and there were some really good ideas.  I liked the floor projection of Pong and thought that the card games were a hoot.  There were some nice art pieces involving game boards, and there was a rather touching deck of cards that were designed by some children.  The Rubik’s Cube showdown between two maths teachers genuinely made me laugh hard (yep, I remember watching such things on TV back in the 80s) and I had fun playing Kerplunk with three friends.

But was that the best the team could come up with?  It might have been a fun atmosphere, but black walls, thin green lasers and the opportunity to play board games that most have tucked away in closets at home might not be a fully justifiable evening out for people.  I know that a lot of people I spoke with felt that it was all lacking, and I certainly thought that such a large concept and talented creative team could have done much better and been much grander.

Still, I have to hand it to Bual and Newall for not only having the courage to run with such an idea but also in their desire of creating a strong creative link in Govan.  I fully support such a project and appreciate the work that went into the piece even if, on the night, it all felt a bit underwhelming.

Allotment plays at the Govan Shopping Centre.  Check the NTS’s website for performance dates.

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