REVIEW: Biding Time (remix), The Arches, Glasgow

This review was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews

Writers: Louise Quinn, Bal Cooke, Ben Harrison, Pippa Bailey

Director: Ben Harrison

Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

Pop music, film and theatre often make for uncomfortable bedfellows, in Biding Time(remix), A Band Called Quinn prove that they can happily marry these different disciplines to produce a gloriously original theatrical experience.

This tale of Thyme, a woman with a dream and the journey she takes on her path to success in the music industry, has developed from an audience participatory piece into this more powerful, collaborative work. A Band Called Quinn have taken the framework of Pippa Bailey’s 25 year old source work, but carved it in their own highly original image, with the inclusion of silent disco technology, film and live music.

It takes us from the initial euphoria of getting a record deal, into descent and decline, through; compromise, loss of identity, disconnection from what we hold dear, erosion of confidence, blatant misogyny, to being spat out at the other end of the process once you’ve failed to be the money-making commodity they desire. However cautionary this tale is, it ends optimistically, as the band emerge with their sanity and creativity intact.

The experience of wearing a headset throughout the performance draws the audience fully into the mind of Thyme, tantalisingly giving us the feeling that we are eavesdropping on someone’s dream, indeed so immersed are the audience in this private world, that there is a palpable sense of unease over whether it’s appropriate to applaud throughout lest we break the spell. The inclusion of Uisdean Murray’s dream and indeed, nightmare-like film sequences and the sinister presence of an Alice in Wonderland-like white rabbit, only serve to increase the feeling of having an out of body experience. But the real highlight of the performance is the band’s beautifully crafted music.

This is an innovative attempt at attracting a new audience to theatre and the inclusion of other art forms and technology make it an engaging one, but the real power and impact comes from having writers who have lived first hand this roller-coaster ride and who are brave enough to show us that, in the 25 years since the original piece was conceived, women’s treatment in the entertainment industry has changed little, if at all, and that is what gives the piece a truly authentic and memorable voice.