Review: Scenes for Survival - Bees, National Theatre of Scotland

These past few months have undoubtedly been a time for thinking. Reflecting on the past, those moments we’re grateful for, and projecting where we’d like to be in the future. We’ve been given a rare opportunity to process life at slower pace, taking the time to focus on our immediate circumstances. Funny what we get up to in order to entertain ourselves, isn’t it? Or it’s funny where our mind goes.

In the most recent addition to the National Theatre of Scotland’s’ Scenes for Survival collection, Lorraine McIntosh stars in Bees. Written by David Greig, Bees tells the story of a woman revisiting the first conversation she had with her soulmate and how she makes sense of it in the present day. Lyrical and affectionate, this piece is like a ray of sunshine.

What is instantly lovely about this film, is the way in which it is delivered. Filmed outside in the sunshine, we get the idea that this speech has suddenly occurred to this woman and she’s decided to record it and send it to her love. It’s rough around the edges, it’s like talking to your mum on facetime, but it’s full of truth and warmth.

Mirren Wilson - a sketch inspired by the piece

Mirren Wilson – A sketch inspired by the piece

McIntosh beautifully radiates a soft and nostalgic excitement. Tender and airy in her delivery, the viewer shares the fuzzy, heart-racing delight with the character as she delves into her memories. Without spoiling the story, the character responds to a cosmic and cerebral idea with a simple quirky outburst and fears that she spoiled the moment. In reality, she actually made the moment what it is – those messy and unpredictable times are the special, unique memories we cling to. Slightly regretful but unapologetic, McIntosh is utterly charming as she indulges in the character’s imagination.

Greig’s’ writing is intimate and superbly specific. Writing of memories so poetically, he finds comedy in the moments of surprise and is detailed in his use of imagery. There are a couple of points, verging into the scientific, where the ideas becoming a little confusing and as the character becomes more philosophical, the train of thought becomes disjointed. Although the ending feels rushed, there is something inexplicable in the way that it makes sense, the words generate a warm feeling and it’s best not to overthink it too much.

Bees is the story a sacred memory frozen in time, part of the bigger story of life. We’re not sure how the relationship panned out, but as the character remarks, “You can’t stop time, can you?” However, that doesn’t mean we can’t cherish what we had. As this woman appreciates her contentment of the here and now, panning the camera round, we share her relish in the trees, the sky and the birds, celebrating the nature around us in all its simplicity; there are even some live bumblebees to be seen.

Bees is streaming on the National Theatre of Scotland’s website.