If you are looking for a cheaper destination for hotel accommodation just outside of Edinburgh, want a location which is handy for also visiting Glasgow, and want a great range of designer shopping stores under one roof then Livingston is the place to be. It is also home to Howden Civic Centre, where I viewed the play STUFF yesterday.
The play centres around a Croation ex-pat, Magda, and we initially see her shuffling around her home. Life has passed Magda by. Her partner left her when her daughter was very young and eventually she went off to live her life, she has heard from neither of them since. She thinks often about her sister and maybe she should contact her someday. Meanwhile her mother, brutally murdered during the height of the Croation civil war looms continually in her mind and we frequently see her, a ghostly presence, drifting around the stage, a permanent reminder of family love and ties long disappeared.
From outside of Magdas world we have the reality. Magda, introverted into her own little environment has become a hoarder. Her house rammed with old newspaper and clutter, nothing can be thrown away. The neighbours are unhappy about the blot on their neighbourhood and the risk of rodent infestation. We see a social worker attempting to work with Magda, who also discovers her client is agoraphobic. The social worker helps to instigate a reunion with Magda and her daughter.
Music runs through the heart of the life story. Magdas mother was an opera singer. Her ghostly presence is accentuated by her moving around the stage flourished with an operatic voice. Magda recalls how both she and her ex-partners were musicians. Her daughter remembers sitting as a small child listening to her mother play.
Amongst the debris on stage there is an original use of small cardboard boxes that initially seem to be clutter but transpire to be little rooms sculptured to look like the inside of Magdas house to illustrate how far in disrepair the house is room by room.
This is a tale of families, of love lost, and reconciliation. We all have experience of this in our lives and its encapsulated in one hour. It’s touchingly told and is a moving experience, well worth catching if you get the opportunity.