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Can't Forget About You

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Three Stars

It speaks volumes that the cross-generational love story that drives David Ireland's potty-mouthed rom-com begins in the Belfast branch of Starbucks. Here, after all, is a now classic symbol of urban homogenisation, in which anything resembling character has been scooched away and replaced with the same shade of bland.

Such places can't plan for people, however, as twenty-something Stevie and pushing fifty Martha come together – eventually – over a good book and a mutual mourning for loved ones, even if Stevie being dumped can't quite match the death of Martha's husband seven years before. Where would-be Buddhist Stevie has his rabid Protestant sister Rebecca and an over-bearing mother steeped in tradition to contend with, Martha is a thoroughly modern Glasgow emigre with few superstitions left. Beyond the hangover of the Troubles, it seems, there are plenty of borders to cross.

There's a deceptive depth to Conleth Hill's no-frills co-production between the Tron and the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. Where the first act sets up an increasingly madcap set of situations that includes an extended riff on cunnilingus, this is just the sucker punch for a much darker and more intimate second half, in which the painful awkwardness of inter-familial intercourse is made plain.

Karen Dunbar gives a performance of low-key depth as Martha, playing it straight in the face of the hilarious largesse of Abigail McGibbon's Rebecca. While Declan Rodgers' Stevie is similarly underplayed, it is an at times frightening exchange between Martha and Carol Moore's Dorothy that cuts to the heart of the play's social, political and religious backdrop, where identity is everything and acceptance doesn't come easy.

The Herald, July 6th 2015

ends

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