After a decade on the Fringe, US theatre company The TEAM are making their Edinburgh International Festival debut this summer with Anything That Gives Off Light – and what a debut. It's an astonishingly accomplished piece of work – a roaring, swirling 110 minutes of theatre that somehow takes in the exploits of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Highland Clearances, the emigration of Scots to the New World and the devastating effects of strip mining in Appalachia, as well as debates around the personal versus the political, gun ownership and capitalism from Adam Smith to 21st-century property development.
That might make it sound like hard work, but it’s anything but; a buddy movie/road trip framing device, plus a lively score (by Shaun Bengson and Abigail Nessen-Bengson, performed by fierce trio Annie Grace, Cat Myers and Maya Sharpe) ensures that Anything that Gives Off Light is as entertaining as it is intellectually demanding.
Written by The TEAM’s artistic director Rachel Chavkin, along with associate director Davey Anderson and the cast (Jessica Almasy, Brian Ferguson and Sandy Grierson), the show bears none of the scars often associated with devised work. Dramaturgically it’s razor sharp, with ideas, images, and words and phrases reverberating again and again as the drama progresses. It looks great too, thanks to sterling work from designer Nick Vaughan (who also gets a credit for having "created" the show) and lighting designer Chahine Yavroyan.
A major achievement that would easily withstand repeated viewings. In fact, I wish I was watching it again now.