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“Break a leg!” they said. And he did.

Three weeks ago it wasn’t looking good.

My artist son was in hospital in Germany, his leg badly broken and out of action for at least three months.

It was painful and inconvenient but his most pressing problem was that the theatrical installation that had been commissioned for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival had still to be built.

Professionally it was unmissable. But time was short and the welding, lifting, cable laying, ladder climbing, transporting and other heavy-duty work would be impossible for him.

P1000858Word got around. His friends pulled out the stops,  his girlfriend was a trouper and  Cryptic, the theatre company, paid for an assistant to work under his direction.

I flew back from Canada to provide the wheels and food and was allocated space for my sleeping bag in a Bohemian cupboard under the stairs!

The local supermarket became familiar, I negotiated my way round the industrial estates of Glasgow to find electrical warehouses, filled my car with the most fragile equipment, loaded vans, blacked out windows, crawled around moving cables (first time I’ve had “housemaid’s knee”)  and – with an hour to go before the preview opened – I even mopped the theatre floor.

Others contributed so much more. But Robbie’s the star; a talented artist who’s uncompromising about his work.


The show  combines music, light, mechanical choreography with “found objects” and the lightening impact of a caged Tesla coil  to create the spectacular assault on the senses. It is dark and sinister, it makes you fear for the future but then, unexpectedly, it can make you laugh out loud. Some of the beats stay in your head for hours. It comes with no interpretation or explanation. It provokes.

His nocturnal lifestyle proved challenging (and the cupboard had its limitations) and apparently I did a bit too much “mothering” but it has been a privilege to help and be part of the team over the past three weeks . The memories will last a long time – not least a last exhausted evening we spent sipping curative Lagavoulins in an Edinburgh bar. His pals are great, we’ve had endless stops for beers and laughs, the preview night was emotional,  and the opening night on Friday …. a full house.

He did it. And now he needs to keep on hobbling in and doing it every day until the 25th of August.  Robbie Thomson. Ecstatic Arc. Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Summerhall Arts Centre. He broke a leg.  (And just look at that shiny floor!)