This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
DIGNIFIED, fearless and profoundly compassionate, Victoria McNulty is the Maria Callas of a Glasgow Barrowlands tongue-lashing.
Her spoken-word film-poem Exiles flies on volleys of hip-hop word-painting, gyrates over the rooftops of the city and identifies the Everyman in the crowd.
There is Icarus, the beautiful doomed youth who will fly too close to other people’s wars and whose only fear is not being frightened.
The convention of the working-class squaddie is familiar enough but McNulty expanding on her particular notion of war is not.
This man fights on behalf of a discourse that brings war into every aspect of life: the “just war,” the “war on terror,” the “war on drugs,” the “class war.”
Alongside Icarus is Eve, a woman “half-knackered by a day of gig-economy graft.”
This is a superb portrait of a lonely young woman, whose garden of Eden is a kitchen spice rack.
Serving in an empty bar, she pours two drinks and addresses an absent man. Were they to meet, their kiss would be “Whyte & McKay slick.”
These are the exiles, isolated stand-ins for an entire class and their lives are “real-estate, caught in the cross-fire.”
Their story is relayed in a kaleidoscope of poetic invention that never pulls a punch and never loses the sense that McNulty loves these characters.
Exiles is peppered with telling detail drawn from city lore: the “rogue falcon nest that couldn’t save the Red Road flats from demolition…” and fearless political satire.
Shot through with a bracingly realistic grasp of Scottish socialism, McNulty keeps nationalism in her cross-hairs. Standing at a lecturn with a microphone, she channels Nicola Sturgeon on her Covid-podium “goose-stepping to Caledonia… Caledonia is calling me,” she croons, “and I don’t call that home.”
The film, directed by Kevin Gilday and David Hayman Jnr, produced by Fair Pley and with music by Calum Baid, is a composite of scenes that open up and explore stand-up poetry in a way that expands the genre and sets new standards.
It recalls Whale Nation and Autogeddon, the great prose poems of Heathcote Williams, but reaches out into new territory and demands a new audience. And deserves it.
In describing a contemporary culture under siege by digital algorithm and surveillance technology, where for the people “only their thoughts are free,” it is exhilarating indeed that this last bastion of freedom finds McNulty as its brilliant exemplar.
Available to stream: ondemand.thestand.co.uk.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.