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A Slow Air

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars
Family fall-outs are one of several threads running throughout The
Tron's Mayfesto season this year. Following on from the explosion of
sisterly feelings in David Ireland's Everything Between Us, David
Harrower's new play, performed by real life brother and sister Lewis
and Kathryn Howden, is on the surface at least a far more gentler
affair.

Athol is a suburban man who long since fled his Edinburgh birthplace
for the Renfrewshire town he could only call home after the 2007
Glasgow airport would-be bombers were discovered living there. His
sister Morna cleans posh peoples houses back in auld Reekie, though the
mercurial streak that sent her on her own wayward path remains intact.
When Morna's son Joshua lands on Athol's doorstep after a fourteen-year
silence between the siblings, an everyday tale of painful estrangement
gradually unravels.

Told in a series of interlocking monologues, Harrower's story is on one
level domestic and sentimental. His observations of the minutiae of
human behaviour and all its little flaws are beautifully and touchingly
painted, and are delivered by the Howdens in Harrower's own production
with a lovely balance of lightness and pathos. Yet his stream of local
references that catch hold of a real sense of place suggests something
bigger, about Scotland, its music and how a reclaiming of its folk
traditions – however dysfunctional the reclaiming might be – can bring
about some kind of bridge between people. While this doesn't always
gel, by weaving in real life events such as the attempted bombing and a
1992 march across the Meadows in Edinburgh, Harrower lends vivid
colours to what in lesser hands might end up left in shades of
kitchen-sink grey.

The Herald, May 17th 2011

ends

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