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My Left/Right Foot

Assembly Roxy
Four stars

It’s all happening down at the Kirktoon Amateur Dramatics Society. The company need a new show, and Louise McCarthy’s wannabe director Amy thinks she has just the thing if Gail Watson’s queen bee Sheena will give her the chance. With inclusivity policies meaning extra brownie points in the district am-dram competition, they hit on the idea of staging My Left Foot, the Oscar-winning film about Christy Brown, the working class Irish kid born with cerebral palsy, but who went on to become a writer and artist. As with the film, which saw Daniel Day-Lewis ‘crip up’ as Brown, KADS cast John McLarnon’s ex west end luv Grant in the lead. Dawn Sievewright’s love-struck Gillian, however, has other plans, particularly where Matthew Duckett’s Chris is concerned.

Softley Gale’s show is designed to mark inclusive company Birds of Paradise’s twenty-fifth anniversary, and is co-produced here with the National Theatre of Scotland. What follows is a potty-mouthed exercise in liberal-baiting bad taste that could easily be a Ryan Murphy TV show transplanted to a small Scottish town. As with Glee, what begins as parody uses irreverence as a weapon to make some serious points.

 Apart from anything else, the singing by the cast of eight is an overwrought wonder, with Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie’s compositions similarly too good to be pastiche. A couple of numbers by Jerry Springer The Opera’s Richard Thomas push things even further. Some of the show’s cleverest moments come from integrating Natalie MacDonald’s Nat as a signer for the hearing impaired, with musical director Gavin Whitworth giving visual descriptions.

All of this makes for a scurrilous but schmaltzy affair that kicks received notions of disability well into touch. In keeping with the tone of the piece, this makes for something utterly fan spastic.

The Herald, August 9th 2018


ends

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