This was always going to win me over… pretty much as soon as I was off the train and I ran into eight wandering Catalonian itinerants in travelling outfits, each carrying a single suitcase, creating gentle mayhem in the streets of Glasgow. Kamchatka was one of many pleasing diversions in a festival which brings a different tone to a very distinctive area. Merchant City is a damn good looking piece of real estate, solid classical architecture reeking of Victorian prosperity; so art and culture sneaking into its doric nooks and crannies is rather satisfying. The sunshine also helped. With the Commonwealth Games only a year away, there was also a sporty motif. An interactive version of every sport in the Games was represented, and young people were indeed running around to try them all. Many musical acts dodged the rain while various markets provided local, national and international dining options (obviously I couldn’t resist the ‘Well-hung Angus burger’). Wayne Hemingway’s Vintage Festival set a friendly retro tone throughout (my quiff was very much at home) and while there was no big centrepiece extravaganza, the impending sporty event and the city itself were very much the heart of the event. Local dance groups filled Merchant Square with noise and energy and I had a very good time following Fadunito’s Ceci 3.0, a playful wheelchair with a mind of its own, and stalking The Wandering Orchestra from bedroom drama to musical climax. But Kamchatka were, once again, my highlight: they climbed scaffolding, they served paella from a street vendor, they borrowed our sunglasses, they shared a man’s pint, they danced to the music of a local busker and all climbed into a passing car. Amid the comedy they suddenly open their suitcases and hold up old sepia photographs of unknown faces, looking at us for answers and help. It’s one of the most moving and arresting moments I’ve come across in my years of street theatre viewing and it was great to see it in the context of this spirited and enterprising festival.
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