Tron Theatre, Glasgow 3 stars “Married?” says one character in the first of two darker-than-you-think plays by Johnny McKnight for his and Julie Brown’s Random Accomplice company. “It’s not ideal, but neither is being single.” It’s such bittersweet truisms that fuel Mary Massacre, in which two very different women hitch a ride on an emotional rollercoaster to become unwitting adversaries turned allies. In the second half, Seven Year Itch takes office politics to the extreme in a world where the voice of God sounds like Dolly Parton, and top secret memos aren’t the only things that get shredded.
Both pieces start off with McKnight’s trademark high-camp accentuated by Lisa Sangster’s inventively lush sets. The sparkly letters that spell out the word ‘FAIR’ in Mary Massacre might easily be appended by a question mark, as married lush Jenny and single girl Leyla dovetail monologues that sound straight off Jeremy Kyle but end up more a Roald Dahl style tale of the unexpected.
The lime-green open-plan office suite that hosts Seven Year Itch becomes the backdrop to a multi-layered forensic investigation of an everyday murder dressed up by its narrators to map out a life and death less ordinary. What is already a post-modern sit-com takes a psycho-sexual turn to resemble some of Dennis Cooper’s more grisly true life yarns.
Brown’s production plays on the polarities of each of McKnight’s troubled souls in what is effectively a pair of contemporary revenge comedies. There’s an over-riding archness in all the performances, with Julie Wilson-Nimmo and Mary Gapinski in Mary Massacre and Brown herself alongside Martin McCormick in Seven Year Itch pointing up the double-bluffing grotesquery of a candy-floss world turned bad.
The Herald, February 20th 2012