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