Theatre-goers in a spin over wall of death

The audience watch from a birds-eye view as Ken Fox and his family take to the wall of death on their motorbikes with an air of grace that has the audience in awe.

Add to this, the journey of Glasgow-based artist Stephen Skrynka as he attempts to integrate into the life and work of the Fox family and learn the skills passed down the family for eight decades and the awe turns to fear as you watch this artist take on the wall which has captivated the Fox family for so long.

Once a fairground staple, Vicky Featherstone, the director of the National Theatre of Scotland, believes it is the story which grows out of Stephen’s involvement in the wall of death spectacular, which brings the show to life.

“It is the story that for me has turned this into theatre, whatever theatre means,” she said. “It is the trials and the tribulations and the hard times and the failures that is the story of the piece.”

The show features multimedia record instillations which illuminate the thoughts and feelings of Stephen as he takes on this new challenge. The audience also gets to learn about the Fox family’s vanishing lifestyle and, of course, watch the show-stopping performance as they spin around the wall in varying motorbikes.

For the Fox Family, the Wall of Death is a way of life – an area artist Stephen Skrynka was keen to explore.

“It has been incredibly difficult and I think my role in all of this, apart from being the apprentice and learning the wall, is just showing everyone who comes to see it, how difficult it is.

“When you watch it from the top, your heart is in your mouth, you get so emotional. They are so elegant and bouletic, they make it look totally easy.

“You don’t realise the years of learning that has got them to that point of perfection that they make it look easy

“So I am proving to everyone that it is bloody difficult.”

Wall of death expert Ken Fox is impressed with Stephen’s bravery: “He has taken a tremendous task on. With him being a lot older, his reactions are a little bit slower and it is very alien to him to try and get his brain set into it.”

The Wall Of Death: A Way Of Life is on at the SECC in Glasgow until February 12 before moving to the AECC, Aberdeen for two days between February 15-17. It will end its Scottish tour in Edinburgh at Royal Highland Centre between February 20-28. For more information, visit the National Theatre of Scotland’s website.

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