Magazine article The Spectator

Theatre Select All. Delete All

Magazine article The Spectator

Theatre Select All. Delete All

Article excerpt

A Slow Air Tricycle, until 2 June Wasted Roundhouse, until 19 May crinkled, rain-worn faces, and unleash soliloquies which take us into every crevice and nook of their mediocrity. Athol is a mildly prosperous builder. Morna is a mildly impoverished skivvy, who likes working for posh Morningside couples whose nice homes arouse her grudge-fuelled envy and martyred uselessness.

The storyline takes in a great mesh of ill-assorted bric-a-brac: a teenager's love of comics, a dog that chewed someone's elbow, a 21st birthday party that goes a bit wrong, the failed attempt by a pair of terrorist tribute acts to blow up Glasgow airport in 2007. 'Trust Scotland to produce crap terrorists, ' is Athol's description of the atrocity-that-wasn't. A good line. Worth keeping, If you want to see Scotland's superiority complex in action, take a look at its literary culture. The works of Hume, Boswell, Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson adorn libraries the world over, and it suits Scotland's arts lobby to pretend that the age of excellence is still alive. It's great PR and it justifies the mighty wodges of tax-payer dosh that fund new writing north of the border.

But when you seek out the latest Jock geniuses you find someone called David Harrower. Familiar name? Maybe not, but then he's better known abroad than at home.

His most celebrated play Blackbird, written in 2005, told of a child-rape victim who met up with her molester 15 years later and found the stirrings of lurvve still tingling in her loins. Yeah, sure. The script was adopted by the inscrutable German opera-meister, Peter Stein, who brought it into the West End where it attracted yawns, and prizes, on every side.

Harrower's new play A Slow Air premiered in Glasgow last year and was accompanied by an awe-struck interview in the Scotsman. 'David Harrower is a writer who sets great store by what is left unsaid so it's perhaps surprising his latest play is a torrent of speech in intertwining monologues.'

Well, I don't know. 'A torrent of speech in intertwining monologues' is a pretty accurate account of Blackbird.

The new script introduces us to Morna and Athol, brother and sister, mid-40s, estranged for some reason. They stand before us, in their crappy clothes and their just about, along with his reference to bungalows as 'death's waiting-rooms'. But the rest? Select all. Delete all. That's the best way to 'set great store by what's unsaid'.

However, the play is due to tour so it's worth adding that Susan Vidler, as Morna, delivers an enjoyable brand of ferocious cattiness. …

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