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The Wheel

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Zinnie Harris’s new play for the National Theatre of Scotland, directed by Vicky Featherstone, is a powerful epic of love and violence that starts like Lorca and turns into a modern war equivalent of Mother Courage.

The Courage figure, Beatriz, is played with full-on power and tenacity by that fine Irish actress Catherine Walsh, leading her young charges, the daughter of a banished man, and her brother, across dangerous war zones in search of justice and reconciliation. They go by way of several misadventures.

The play is full of incidents and characters, and never flags for a minute. It is also spectacularly well designed by Merle Hensel, and atmospherically lit by Natasha Chivers.

There’s a mood of Edward Bond about it, too, as people squabble over a life as they also do over a goat, terrible things happen, and Harris constantly narrows the gap between word and action.

But unless I’m missing something, the play doesn’t strike one as immediate, urgent or necessary. Just very good at doing what it does. And there’s a good cast all the way through, from Olga Wehrly’s lissom, languid bride-to-be in the Spanish village, to Paul Thomas Hickey’s impressive Rossignol and Leo Wringer’s uncompromising militia man.


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