Wondrous Flitting

The title of Wondrous Flitting is a double reference: it stands for both the miraculous appearance in 24-year-old waster Sam's house of the Holy House of Loreto, a medieval site of Catholic Marian pilgrimage, and for the very modern malaise that the play investigates. 'People don't know what they need,' announces a neurotic, self-destructive dentist – one of the most bizarre characters in a script populated with a panoply of oddballs – and in scene after scene each new individual that Sam encounters articulates a general lack of knowledge and direction. In a world superabundant with images, ideas and tribes to belong to, none of the characters has any idea where to turn to for help.'Double reference' might in fact be inadequate. It's hard to track exactly what means what in Mark Thomson's dense, ambitious writing, but it's still quite clear that he's stabbing at something very big indeed. When the house, with its medieval religious certainties, erupts into a fractured and uncertain modern Scotland, Sam embarks on a search for the meaning of its annunciation to his small, unfulfilling life. No applecart is left unturned. We meet a deadpan, resigned Eastern European cleaner, an unemployed man with inordinate pride in his house and his mug, masturbating to music videos, as well as a racist grandparent it is hard not to pity and, for Sam, impossible not to love. Almost every scene has to be taken on its own strange terms, but the cumulative effect when the pieces fall into place is staggering. It's panoramic, fast – at times a little too fast – and lends itself more easily than one might prefer to using whatever character is to hand as a mouthpiece for Thomson's deliriously overstuffed description and unconfinably, unashamedly large ideas.But the last third is immaculate, queasy and dark, and if a show which shoots this high doesn't deserve five stars despite some minor quibbles it's hard to see what does. The Traverse, as the home of excellent and slickly-produced new writing, will probably once again bring home a handful of Fringe Firsts, like a child with first dibs on the orchard collecting all the conkers he can. I'd be very surprised if Wondrous Flitting were not among them.

Reviews by Richard O'Brien

The Blurb

In Loreto is a Holy House, a wondrously divine flitting house. Now it's in Sam's house. A miracle has occurred and this crash landing leads to a darkly comic odyssey as Sam searches for truths and his girlfriend.