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Charlie Sonata

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

The last time Douglas Maxwell developed a play with students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland it finished up as Fever Dream: Southside, this year's main-stage professional offering at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. Whether this picaresque metaphysical fantasia will go the same way following Matthew Lenton's production performed in the Tron's bijou Changing House space by an ensemble of final year BA Acting students remains to be seen, but there are similarities.

Lenton's production finds Charlie 'Chick' Sonata slumped unconscious, a hip-flask by his side. Around him carouse the flotsam and jetsam of a life carelessly lived, a mixture of now domesticated drinking buddies, old flames and accidental angels who seem to have embarked with Chick on some celestial bender. Sat round a hospital bed where teenage Audrey lays unconscious, Chick's life flashes across his eyes as he is lurched Scrooge-like across a life-long mid-life crisis that leaves him only wanting to do good.

Over a slow-burning ramble through the thwarted ambitions of a soft play area manager and the sexual peccadilloes of Latvian ballet dancers, some kind of fairy-dust is sprinkled onto Chick's world enough to make it a matter of life and death. Maxwell and Lenton's dramatic concerns are well met in this respect, as their nine actors navigate their way through something that more resembles a surrealist tone poem than a play per se. Onstage throughout, the likes of Carly Tisdall's all dressed up Meredith and Dan Cahill's Jackson offload their own chemically enhanced lost years. But this is Nebli Basani's show. As Chick, he is a guileless mess of contradictions in a play that allows its hero to finally find his wings.
 
The Herald, June 8th 2015
 
ends

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