Saturday, 30 April 2016

Leaf by Niggle @ Tron

So the Satanist and the Jesuit have been saying that they want to
hang out more, and it's a cold yet sunny Saturday afternoon, and what better place for me to play gooseberry on this match-made-in-Glasgow than the Tron bar. The Satanist is rocking a new look, going for the leather guy this week, while the Jesuit opts for man-at-Hugo Boss, black jacket and thin lapels.

"You know, we do share a cosmology rooted in Jung," the Jesuit was whispering when the bell announced that Leaf by Niggle was about to start.

The pair of them file in behind a crocodile of pre-teens, out on a jolly. I wonder which of them would be most likely to corrupt their minds...

The Jesuit keeps up his whispering throughout the performance, until I worry that he is going to get us the bum's rush. The Tron might not have forgiven me for the whole headline about the artistic director's genitalia scandal. Afterwards, he claims he was providing footnotes. 

Leaf is a Tolkein story, but not one of his epic Orcs versus Elves numbers. The charming narrator - the show is like being cuddled and bathed by a fatherly but still handsome man - explains that Tolkein didn't like Leaf to be interpreted as an allegory. The Jesuit isn't having that. The Satanist has some problems with the theology (it is pretty obvious that 'The Second Voice' is Jesus and Niggle's journey is into the afterlife) but enjoys the bucolic atmosphere of the telling. Pretty soon, the original fucking odd couple are back in the bar, swapping opinions about how much they liked the Englishness of the tale. It's all trains and gardens and repressed emotion, only it gets a bit obvious when a shepherd turns up to guide Niggle into the great beyond.

"I don't suppose there was enough grandeur in it," snarks the Jesuit. "I guess you're not happy unless someone is getting roasted in the fire, or falling out of the sky shining like shook foil."

"Honestly, that's more your speed. It's a bit pedestrian though, especially from an author who is best known for writing the template for the world's longest film trilogy."

"It was meant to be for kids - at least this performance was. And don't tell me you didn't enjoy the meandering narrative and the actor's asides about how he got all the props when he tidied out his mum's attic. I loved the way he wrote himself into the plot -"

"Aye, very Brechtian. Let's get the critic over so he can tell us about the monologue as an epic medium. And no, I don't mean epic as in big, I mean epic as in not tragic."

Deciding to leave that can of worms unopened, The Jesuit and the Satanist turned conversation towards that topless bloke who plays a big African drum while singing along to popular songs in the High Street.

"He's dreamy," sighed the Satanist.

"Rather like Leaf by Niggle." The Jesuit pounced. "Okay. It's an allegory about the value of all human life, even the ones that don't get way into making an entire mythology. And it's very Christian, but don't expect me to hate on it for that. Here it is: it is refreshing to hear a spiritual story these days that isn't either liberals having to apologise for the antics of their more right wing fellows, or a fundamentalist raving about sodomite fag-houses. It's not just for kids, and the tale is told by a safe pair of hands. Plus, he has this really cool little bicycle."

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