What Girls are made of by Raw Material and Regular Music (but forget all that, it’s Cora’s show) at The Traverse.


A Traverse Theatre Company and Raw Material co-production in association with Regular Music.

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I booked my tickets for this months ago.  I expected it to be outstanding (after all Cora Bissett rarely puts a foot wrong and is my favourite Scottish Director).  But that, as we all know, is what jinx’s things.  So I was nervous that this ran the very strong risk of self-indulgence.

But no.  This is not self -indulgent.

Neither is it self- aggrandising (another huge risk as it’s Cora’s story of her sudden burst into fame in her teens as lead singer of Fife band, The Darlinghearts).

Whether it’s Orla O’loughlan’s deft direction, Cora’s beautiful writing, Grant O’rourke’s hysterical interjections in a host of cameo roles (or those of fellow cast, and band, members Susan Bear and Simon Donaldson) it’s hard to say because they all add up to a package that will fill your heart with joy before filling your eyes with tears.

It’s contemporary Scottish theatre at it’s mightiest.  It’s right up there with Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour and The Strange Undoing of Prudentia Hart.  But where it takes a further step is where it leaves the comedy and the music behind (brilliant as that is) and steps into personal territory on multiple levels.  I won’t say why for fear of spoiling it for you.

It certainly brought out the inner girl in me.  And made me proud to ‘be a girl’.  (When you see it you’ll understand.)

And by the way, Grant O’rourke can pluck a bass guitar like the best of them.

I’m a little surprised this isn’t an NTS show because it, like the above mentioned NTS hits, it could have a long life on the road, unlike its protagonist in her Darlinghearts days. I hope it will anyway.  Not so I can see it again (I’ve already bought another 6 tickets you see).

No, so YOU can see it.  In London.  In New York.  In Kirkaldy.

It’s peculiarly Scottish, but it’s unquestionably universal.

And it’s a national treasure.  Just like our Cora.

 

 

 

Hoors


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A Scottish word meaning ladies of the night.  Not particularly a term of affection and one used frequently in Fife where people refer to one another as “ya hoor ye.”

It’s an appropriate title then for Gregory Burke’s latest play which is currently premièring at he Traverse because Burke is fiercely proud of his Fife-ness.  His first play ‘Gagarin Way’ is named after a street in Fife which, in turn, is rather randomly named after the famous cosmonaut who has, to my knowledge, as much Fife Blood in him as I have Russian.

The Black Watch, the regiment that inspired Burke’s tour de force, are largely recruited from Fife, and Hoors is set in Fife in the aftermath of a calamitous stag night where the bridegroom to be only goes and dies.

We open in the bride to be’s living room as she prepares for the following day’s funeral with her sister; pishing it up.

They’re waiting on a couple of lads.  The ‘brides’ bit on the side and his mate; a right Jack the lad (in his shady past).

The play, literally, rotates between the bride’s bedroom and living room where various debates and revelations unravel themselves over the next hour and a half.

Sex and death.  Or shagging and copping it are the main themes in a show that is peppered with hilarious one-liners and foul-mouthed observations.  But great insights and depth of meaning seemed pretty thin on the ground.  That’s fine by me, as not everything has to carry the burden of enlightenment with it.  But I gather Mr Burke is a bit hacked off with the post-Black Watch expectations which mark this, to some,  as a weak follow up.

I can’t comment.  I’ve read Gagarin Way which I liked very much but I didn’t see the Black Watch.

Both Jeana and I enjoyed this.  But it’s a Chinese meal of a play.  Good at the time but you’re still craving a chippy at midnight.

No one will ever forgive us, by The National Theatre of Scotland at The Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh


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Well.

Here’s a one.

I have to declare two interests from the outset.

I am a Catholic.

My cousin (Susan Vidler) is in this play.

So I’m biased.

Paul Higgins, may be the most remarkable new stage-writing talent since Gregory Burke.  It really is written brilliantly, flowing along at 100 miles an hour packed with hilarious one liners, and I believe it’s autobiographical. (Actually it’s very unfair of me to heap this comparative praise on Paul Higgins given my lack of comparative insight; but if he isn’t the best then Scottish Theatre is absolutely booming.)

I urge you to see this play before it is too late. (It was pretty much sold out on a dreich Tuesday in late November.)

It’s a fantastic smorgasbord of Scottishness. As the nation of doom we like to dwell on the dark side and this does it magnificently. I honestly have never encountered a script, in film or on stage, that leaps like Bambi on steroids, between bleak nihilism and outrageous humour, line by line, quite as well as this.

It is remarkable.

The main theme centres on belief 9or lack of it). I suppose the key character in the five person cast is the youngest son who has opted out of the seminary (or is that safe haven?) that he has studied at for seven years because he has become atheistic. Is there a God? Is there a Catholic God (OMG)? Is there a point? Why should I coexist with you? Have I a future?

But, at the gleaming, glowing, pulsating, dangerous centre of it all is the horrific patriarch, Gary Lewis. What a performance. The drunk, child-beating, wife-hating (but actually not particularly misogynistic) husband engulfs the stage with his presence.

It is massive.

The audience howled with tears and laughter and, for me, it was another triumphant National Theatre of Scotland performance. I’ve seen three this year in three different theatres.

They all demonstrated our brilliance.