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The Broons

Perth Concert Hall
Three stars

The Broons annual isn't just for Christmas, it seems, in this bumper-sized staging of Dudley D Watkins' eighty-year old comic strip family, brought to life by writer Rob Drummond and director Andrew Panton for the Sell A Door company in association with Perth Theatre. It begins with Maw Broon attempting to round up her brood for a family snapshot on a stage already framed by cartoon portraits of the clan set against a jumbo-sized logo. As resident glamour-puss Maggie announces her impending wedding, Drummond put flesh and blood on the characters in a topsy-turvy mix of knowingness and nostalgia.

The dramatic portrait that follows lays bare a matriarchal microcosm of working class family life stuck in a Sisyphean limbo of everyday adventures where nothing ever changes. While there is much fun to be had from the eleven-strong ensemble's studies of all that is braw with Maw, Pa, Grandpa and co, Drummond paints them as a not always happy breed desperate to burst out of the one-dimensional frame that defines them and chase their dreams of leaving. Somehow, though, you know Hen and his existential crisis are never going to find themselves in Australia, Daphne will still be pining for a man, and even swotty Horace is unlikely to make it to Mars.

Joyce Falconer lends Maw a big-hearted brassiness in a show where dysfunction and arrested development give way to a full-on rock and roll musical that features every Scottish archetype under what is probably a tartan-draped Sun. During the pop-tastic finale it's a wonder that Jesse Rae doesn't bound on wielding a claymore to declaim one more overblown anthem. Now that really would be braw.

The Herald, October 3rd 2016

ends

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