Review: Ross Sutherland

Ross Sutherland. Photo: James Lyndsay. Ross Sutherland. Photo: James Lyndsay.

James Goffin
Sunday, May 11, 2014
1:56 PM

It’s strange the things we can get nostalgic about: for Ross Sutherland, it’s the humble videotape.

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The central - slightly stretching - conceit of his latest show, Stand-Buy For Tape Back-Up is a tape containing clips recorded by him and his grandad, clips that played backwards, in slow motion, and on repeat form a synchronised visual background to spoken poetry.

This paen to the VCR is beautifully produced, with the hiss and pops of the worn-out tape punctuating Sutherland’s words and some delicious moments of synchronicity as clips from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, the Crystal Maze, Ghostbusters and even banking adverts blend in unlikely harmony with his meditations on his childhood, his grandfather’s death and his own struggles with asthma and depression.

Always one of the strongest lyrically of the Aisle 16 poets, Sutherland’s wordplay is extended on to the screen with the antics of Will Smith and hapless gameshow contestants being twisted in to metaphors of his own creation, and the pace of the video matched to the changing metre of his own delivery.

The closing coda around the film Jaws feels a little at odds with the rest of the show, but this is still a work in progress and no doubt that will be fixed as the piece heads to the Edinburgh Fringe. Sutherland is not about to fade away.

For more Norfolk and Norwich Festival reviews click here

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