Friday, 14 October 2016

Spoiling

Kirkton Community Centre, Dundee
Three stars

Things have changed since John McCann's pre-independence referendum fantasia first appeared in Edinburgh during the summer of 2014. Then, with the actual vote looming, McCann imagined newly appointed SNP Foreign Minister Fiona preparing to square up to her Westminster counterpart as the world's press watched sovereignty being handed over. Somewhat symbolically pregnant, Fiona also looked set to have her wings and her upstart tendencies clipped by Mark, a junior bureaucrat with a nice line in managerialist gobbledegook who had been sent to make sure she didn't go off message.

Now, in this updated version rewritten by McCann for Dundee Rep Ensemble's latest community tour, the 2014 No vote a bittersweet memory for both parties. Set in 2020, a second indy referendum may have finally got a result, but there is the lingering mess of the post-Brexit fall-out to deal with as well.

As the play opens, Fiona rises from a small mountain of screwed up paper where she's spent the night with her factotum Paul attempting to write a speech worthy of being immortalised on tea-towels in a way the script she's been given is decidedly lacking. The morning after, alas, Paul has been moved on, with Belfast-born Mark tasked to pick up the pieces.

As a vehicle for the Rep's latest crop of graduate actors, Joe Douglas' production justifies the presence of Rebekah Lumsden and Laurie Scott as a pair of not so hip young gun-slingers who have both been fired into political life by the sort of energy that sprang up around the 2014 referendum.

As played by Lumsden, Fiona is a potty-mouthed young firebrand possessed with an impressively realised sense of superiority and a picture of herself with Nicola Sturgeon on the mantelpiece. Scott's Mark may have already been tamed, but once the pair let rip with a cut and paste speech culled from the scraps around them, old passions are rekindled with abandon.

What emerges from the wreckage of this seemingly brave new world is a picture of radical idealism reined in by the sort of compromised realpolitik that is exactly what isn't required in the real world right now. Even so, depending on what happens next, both onstage and off, it might well be what a very Scottish coup ends up looking like in a comic allegory of future shocks to come that continues its tour this week.

The Herald, October 17th 2016

ends

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