Neu! Reekie! put on a party in Dundee and it wasn’t much like your traditional Saturday night out. It was real. An exploration of mental health, specifically in relation to anxiety.
We begin with a short film about Picasso and a tip of the hat to the current referendum fallout in Catalonia. It’s safe to say that Neu! Reekie! seemed keen for another referendum in Scotland and for the vote to be a Yes this time! Fair enough!
Introducing tonight’s show, is Kevin Williamson, co-founder of Neu! Reekie! He describes what WH Auden called The Age of Anxiety in his famous long poem, and how we are living in similar times now.
Next up is Jenni Fagan. The acclaimed novelist and poet is no stranger to anxiety – her work targets subjects like this head on. She reads her carefully chosen words with deft lilt, and it’s a pleasure to hear.
Then comes a film by Jenni, which is about the old Edinburgh District Hospital. Remarkably, Jenni was born there, and her poetic description of what life was like there grips us all. You get the feeling, on this occasion, that mental health has come a long way.
The next performer is Darren McGarvey, or, as he is more commonly known, Loki. Loki’s newly found sobriety is responsible, in part, for a new clarity of vision. His piece about the class divide in Glasgow is a call to arms, urging us to understand how the other half live. There’s a sense that we are all in this together and how toxic pre-conceived notions of others can be.
A pleasant interlude from guitarist Craig Lithgow follows. If this man were any more laid back, he’d be horizontal. At times, Craig makes the banality of existence something worth celebrating with simple stories, beautifully told.
To finish, Kevin Williamson comes back to the stage to perform Tam o’ Shanter by Robert Burns. His reading is hypnotic, spellbinding and enhanced by three demonic dancers. It’s a great end to a great evening. Neu! Reekie! have made everyone welcome. High spirits are found through delving into difficult subject matter.
by David Lamond
Having recovered, to a certain extent, from years of ill health, David is now studying at Fife College. David hopes to reclaim more of his identity by attending the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival and writing down his experiences.