If You’re Feeling Sinister: A Play with Songs
Venue: Gilded Balloon – Chamber Street
Belle and Sebastian’s 1996 sophomore album If You’re Feeling Sinister inspires this ‘play with songs’ from writer Eve Nichol and director Paul Brotherston. This well-acted piece engages for its hour-long duration, yet Belle and Sebastian’s music does not always advance the narrative as intended.
Boss (Alan McHugh), a university professor, and his student, Kid (Sarah Swire), find their affair complicated after a spontaneous decision to steal Salvador Dali’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross from the Kelvingrove gallery.
Nichol’s narrative crafts the relationship between Boss and Kid with skill and enthusiasm, whilst unconventional, this relationship has a spark and excitement – something which presumably has to be present if you are going to steal a Dali masterwork. Yet this spark is something that dwindles as the narrative progresses with the divide between the pair widening throughout thanks to the stress of the theft and the polarising paths with which Boss and Kid’s lives are on. McHugh and Swire have a dramatic spark – with Swire in particular doing exceptionally well at capturing the insecurities and self-loathing that plague us in our perceptible youths – yet also a sense of rebellious fun.
Whilst some of Belle and Sebastian’s tracks capture this sense of rebellious fun, many of them do not necessarily gel with the narrative of If You’re Feeling Sinister and we are often left wondering the relevance of song to scene. This music is well performed and often provides jolts of energy to the production, however.
There is fun to be found on the heist angle (although its exploration is a little thin on the ground) and Nichol’s narrative does an impressive job at crafting the Glasgow setting as a third character. References to Kelvingrove, Oran Mor and the Necropolis help give If You’re Feeling Sinister an appeal which transports us to its setting.
If You’re Feeling Sinister is light, heartfelt entertainment with diverting musical numbers and energetic performances from McHugh and Swire. The narrative may feel a little thin on the ground and these musical numbers do not massively progress it, yet If You’re Feeling Sinister is a pleasant enough experience.