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