The Emily Triptych

Emily Dickinson is flitting about the meeting room in the Quaker Meeting House. A beautiful room, with views spreading out from the huge windows, down Victoria street to Grassmarket and across to the National Library of Scotland on George IV Bridge. This mostly-solo piece focuses on resonating with this lovely space allowing the performance to respond to the city around, and the levels of light and atmosphere created in the space.

A robust individual piece of work

Miranda McCauley is charming and playful as Dickinson, totally absorbing when moving about the space. There is a wonderful sense of freedom to the work, it doesn’t feel pinned to a stage. She handles the letters, diary entries and poetry with ease, bringing them breathily to life. It is a little unclear as to what age of Dickinson McCauley is aiming to portray. The performance seems youthful, and she plays with figures representing her parents – but it is vague as to whether this is meant to be childish play, or an older teenage mockery. The first production focuses on a struggle of faith. Dickinson is struggling with the societal pressure to attend church and trying to come to terms with her own worship. It builds on the layers of residual spiritual presence by virtue of performing in the meeting room.

There is a sense of reverence and respect both for Dickinson and the spiritual discussion she raises and in the exploration of faith – whilst maintaining a gentle sense of humour. The accompaniment was masterfully and subtly applied, often I was struggling to tell if it was part of the show or the space we were in. Ringing bells and the resonating wine glasses slip in and out seamlessly.

The Emily Triptych is a three-part series of performances that make up one whole. Each takes place at a different time of the day, and have completely different content, although I didn’t find this out until after seeing the first performance. That being said, the first performance stood up on its own as a robust individual piece of work. I would be interested in checking out the rest of the work, and going to see part two and three.

Reviews by M Johnson

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The Blurb

A one-woman performance, adapted from the writings of Emily Dickinson. The Emily Triptych is a translation into drama of the deep introspection that gave birth to some of our language's greatest poetry. Performed in a room with windows at different times of day, the piece responds to the changing atmosphere of the world outside.