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The Chooky Brae

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
3 stars
There’s an inherent bleakness coursing through the final part of D.C. Jackson’s small-town Ayrshire-set rites of passage trilogy, given an appositely bright production by director Kenny Miller for Borderline Theatre Company. It could be something to do with its living room, Christmas Day setting, where twenty-something stoner Barry and his single mum wee sister Norma are making the best of things. Or perhaps it’s the uneasy humour mined from their wheelchair-bound father, whose facilities have apparently been rendered immobile by a stroke. Either way, beyond Jackson’s facility for deadly one-liners involving fun-size cabbages and priceless verbal riffs on circus monkeys, this isn’t totally the knockabout sit-com fans of the trilogy’s previous two plays, The Wall and The Ducky, might expect.

Because, as Jackson ties up the loose ends to his saga, there’s a sad acceptance of Barry, Norma and her possible true love Rab’s growing pains that resemble Alan Ayckbourn if he’d been decamped to a Scottish new town and force-fed ancient variety gags. It’s a place where grown-ups stay together because they have to and privacy can only be found through a trip to the lavvy, as absurdity piles on absurdity in a calamity of burnt offerings and botched walk-outs.

It remains unapologetically prime time fare, however, as Jackson gets his gallery-pleasing TV in-jokes out the way early on, only to return to full-pelt scatologically potty-mouthed gold in the play’s final third. If some of the action still needs sharpening at the start of this long tour, the deadpan comic interplay between Sally Reid’s guilelessly straight-talking Norma and Jordan Young’s flint-eyed Rab possesses an intermittently hilarious chemistry that makes them a double act to cherish.

The Herald, September 9th 2010

ends

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