February 21-23, 2019
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
There seemed to be a sense of magic in the air as I arrived the Tron Theatre at Glasgow Cross. I had come to see Linda Marlowe present “Berkhoff’s Women”, celebrating some of the magnificent woman in the early works of Steven Berkhoff, a show which she herself premiered at the Edinburgh Festival 20 years ago, and which came from her own association and friendship with the playwright himself. To be honest, I hadn’t come across the piece before and didn’t quite know what to expect from the evening’s performance. That, coupled with a personal liking for this venue, served to heighten my senses. From the moment when Marlowe, dressed in a trim sexy black dress, launched herself with shocking intensity into the first role, the whole audience was hooked.
A large square of red material served to further grab our attention as she folded and unfolded it, adding yet more depth and significance to every profound and poetic utterance. Attention which never faltered as she wove together the extracts from the playwright’s work, in a continuous stream of honesty, passion, certainty, absurdity. She embraced each character fully and with gusto, holding a torch to the sensibilities of the playwright and his work.
Nothing was held back; strong shocking language expressing and emphasizing strong emotions. Her bond with the audience built steadily as the performance reached its climax. Charged with ironies and terrible conundrums, her voice filled with the words and gestures of her performance caught your very heart sometimes without mercy as she cajoled, then shimmering forth with the look and the message of love to the depth of understanding as a woman who was delivering lines written by a man.
There was a Q&A session after the performance and Marlowe shared some of her feelings about performing this piece again after 20 years, and perhaps a slight nervousness at such an undertaking. Things had, she agreed, changed in that 20 years, both personally and in society. That’s why it is perhaps important to revisit such a work, to process the changes.
Quite simply, Linda Marlow shone in this performance, a single performer portraying a complex cast of characters telling forceful yet sensual stories; universal truths. Her own persona, inspired, sensual and honest, seems to perfectly typify the strong women she depicts here, Berkoff’s women. All in all, one is left with a swelling sense of love for each other, told in poetic tales of devotion and dedication from a strong (yet universal) female point of view.