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The Destroyed Room at Tron Theatre, Glagow – ‘timely and incendiary’

The Destroyed Room at Glasgow's Tron Theatre. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic The Destroyed Room at Glasgow's Tron Theatre. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic
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Scottish theatre company Vanishing Point make two types of show: more populist pieces like The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler, a celebration of the Scottish poet and maverick, and edgier, more experimental work. The Destroyed Room is an example of the latter, It deals in the corrosive nature of observing and being observed in our contemporary over-sharing culture.

Inspired by Jeff Wall’s influential 1978 photograph of a ransacked room, this production shares the controversial and bracing qualities of the company’s 2012 meditation on pornography’s destructive impact, Wonderland.

Three unnamed people – two women and one man – sit in a studio discussing the ubiquity of 24 hour news channels, surveillance, and our current need to document everything, from the most banal events to the most harrowing. Cameramen film their every gesture and reaction. With no ‘characters’ or lineal plot, The Destroyed Room meanders around ideas and motifs, before delivering a brutal twist.

Of the three performers Pauline Goldsmith questions the need to exist vicariously through a lens, while her sparring partner, Barnaby Power, clashes with her assertion that “capitalism poses a bigger threat than terrorism”. Elicia Daly appears more vulnerable, triggered by the mere mention of images of dead refugee children projected onto TV screens.

Fuelled by red wine, moral battles and self-righteousness, the panel rapidly lose their inhibitions. Awkward pauses are weighted by acrimony, and the audience become voyeurs to extreme close-ups of Daly’s sorrow, Goldsmith’s rage, and the increasingly taciturn, troubled Power.

The denouement is unexpected and startling: The Destroyed Room makes the whole audience complicit in the unfolding destruction, asking where our limitations in active participation lie. It may not be comfortable, or offer easy solutions, but it feels like both a timely and necessary piece of theatre.

Verdict
Incendiary exploration of the insidious effects of mass media
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