Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Once upon a time, it felt like Dario Fo's anti-capitalist classic was common fare on Scotland’s stages in every sense. The 1970s sex comedy styled soundtrack that opens Johnny McKnight's new take on the play might suggest a retro style revisitation, but in truth, McKnight's pop culture peppered update of Joseph Farrell's translation couldn't be more of the moment.
It's not just the everyday thrill of looting the local supermarket that makes Julie Wilson Nimmo's Toni and Sally Reid's Maggie such a vitally gallus double act in Rosalind Sydney's production for Glasgow Life in association with the Tron as part of the theatre's Mayfesto season. Nor is it the street-smart references to everyone from Ally McCoist to Judy Murray as Toni and Maggie attempt to hide their booty from their seemingly more conformist men-folk.
For all the run-around of Toni and Maggie’s increasingly desperate measures to try and keep their born-again barricade-jumping on the down-low in the face of Itxaso Moreno’s comedy coppers, ultimately it’s the anarchic joie de vivre in standing up to power that carries the play. We might never get to see the rioting on the streets going on beyond Jessica Brettle’s living room set, but as it intermittently lights up like a quiz show, the infectiousness of collective action and its aphrodisiac thrill is clear.
Despite the fun and games of the comic interplay, both between Reid and Wilson Nimmo, and Gavin Jon Wright and Thierry Mabonga as their drippy spouses, Gio and Louis, Sydney’s take on the play is less manic than some might expect. This less cartoon-like approach works in the play’s favour, lending it a power that is sometimes over-ridden by pure knockabout. As Wilson Nimmo’s call to arms at the end of the play make clear, however, the revolutionary beast, once woken at grassroots level, is unlikely to put up with being talked down to anymore.
The Herald, May 7th 2019