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Promises Promises

Menzieshill Community Centre, Dundee
Four stars
When mercurial school-teacher Maggie Brodie click-clacks her way into 
the room in her bright red shoes and attitude to match, she can't fail 
to make an impression, not least of all on anyone who dares to cross 
her. There are plenty who do in Douglas Maxwell's troubling solo play, 
first seen in 2010, and revived here by Dundee Rep for a tour of 
community venues before a stint in the Highlands care of producing 
partner, Eden Court, Inverness.

With Maggie taking up a temporary post following a chequered past, also 
new to the school is a six year old Somalian girl called Rosie, who 
refuses to speak, and who her religious leaders say is possessed by the 
devil. With demons of her own to deal with, Maggie finds an affinity 
with Rosie, challenging what she sees as superstitious mumbo-jumbo 
before she discovers just how much damage a warped belief system can 
cause.

By having Maggie recognise so much of herself in Rosie, Maxwell 
explores a grey area of multi-cultural society rarely spoken of without 
some sensationalist agenda, where patriarchal orders can and do use 
tradition as an excuse to abuse women and children, whatever the 
particular faith.

Philip Howard's production puts the play's moral centre to the fore 
with a dynamic turn by Ann Louise Ross as Maggie. By turns vivacious, 
angry and increasingly vulnerable, Ross' performance is vivid, fearless 
and unflinching in its portrayal of a woman who absorbs a little girl's 
pain in a way that sees her become a kind of avenging angel. As Rosie 
goes out into the world, Maggie's final vow of silence might save her 
yet.

The Herald, October 30th 2013

ends

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