Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Sash


Adam Smith Centre, Kirkcaldy
3 stars
When Hector MacMillan's play about religious bigotry in a Glasgow 
tenement first appeared in 1973, hand-me-down sectarianism was rife. 
Forty years on, that same bigotry still blights the west coast of 
Scotland, and Bill MacWilliam, the staunchest of unreconstructed 
Orange-men who the play pivots around, is as recognisable as ever in 
Michael Emans' Rapture Theatre production.

Set on the morning of the annual July 12th parade, widowed Bill and his 
grown-up son Cameron are suffering. Cameron has looked beyond the 
blinkers of what he's been taught, and is refusing to march, even if 
his girlfriend Georgina sides with his father. With Bill at war with 
Catholic downstairs neighbour Bridget and her pregnant daughter Una, it 
takes a drink-fuelled accident for anything like reconciliation to take 
place.

While MacMillan's play starts off comic, it's saying some deeply 
serious things, not just about bigotry, but about how belief systems 
provide an emotional crutch to many. Bill and Cameron are clearly still 
in mourning, but both are too macho to admit it. There's something 
going on too concerning the generational rift the ideas of the 1960s 
opened up.

If Emans' brush-strokes are too broad to begin with, it's a mere sucker 
punch for the ideological debates that follow. Stewart Porter makes for 
an unusually vulnerable-looking Bill, with Colin Little's Cameron the 
only fully rounded character on show. As Ashley Smith's Una educates 
Cameron, her songs from both sides of the divide become the play's 
conscience. As she says, “There's a great spirit to them all.” As for 
Bill, like the organisation he puts faith in, he may be the walking 
wounded, but remains too stubborn to surrender.

The Herald, May 1st 2013

ends

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