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Sweetness

Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh
3 stars
Once upon a time in the north, in a land that Jamie Oliver’s Healthy
Dinners forgot, two brothers are dying side by side, albeit in separate
houses where their estrangement festers. Archie has cancer, while
Murdo’s obesity suggests his heart might fail any second. Especially as
his endless sugar-rushing extends to spoon-feeding himself with pus
from his own sores. Into this war of attrition steps Kate, a writer
from the south on a tour of the land’s less populated arenas. Stranded
by the snow, she moves between the two men, hearing different versions
of a real-life epic involving dismembered cats, a lost doll, a wife
secretly shared and a lost child each claims as their own.

Adapted by Kevin MacNeil from Swedish writer Torgny Lindgren’s novel,
Hummelhonung, Sweetness is a piece of skewed post-modern story-telling
that revels in its own oddness. Matthew Zajac’s production for Dogstar
even puts Sean Hay in a humungous fat suit as Murdo lays prostrate and
immovable. Yet, where on the page each man’s vivid descriptions might
provoke a reader’s imagination, heard out loud they don’t always
captivate the way they should. This isn’t helped by unnecessary hiatus’
caused by the interminable wheeling back and forth of a partition
between Murdo and Zajac’s Archie.

Yet there’s something at the heart of such a wild piece of contemporary
folklore that says something about the ruthlessness of creation itself.
As Lynne Verrall’s Kate becomes nursemaid, confessor, therapist and
go-between, she also becomes the siblings’ life-saver, the St
Christopher she’s been writing about. By relating her own versions of
the truth to each, Kate finally gets her story, the maker of her own
mythology.

The Herald, March 7th 2011

ends

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