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Truant

Jordanhill Parish Church, Glasgow
3 stars
Breaking the rules is instinctive when you’re of an age whereby you’re
not entirely sure what they are yet. This was evident from the primary
school age audience watching this new show created by John Retallack
for his Company of Angels operation in a co-production with the
National Theatre of Scotland. Throughout sixteen unrelated scenes that
tackle a variety of cross-generational conflicts, these not easily
impressed charges giggled at the swear words and whispered throughout.
It’s not that they weren’t getting the seriousness of what was going
on. It’s just that, as with the characters onstage, they too were
seeing how far they could take things.

From the boy squaring up to a shopping mall security guard and the mum
whose teenage daughter is more grown up than she’ll ever be, to more
immediately recognisable forms of parental abuse and avoidance,
Retallack pulls no punches. Based on interviews with families from
Glasgow-based communities that emphasise the here and now relevance of
the play’s themes, its more lateral take on notions of truancy finds
the grown-ups coming out of things looking just as dysfunctional as
their offspring.

With each short scene top and tailed by a piece of wordless
choreography involving Retallack’s cast of eight, such a sense of
impressionistic invention breaks up any notion of being lectured to.
The play’s compactness too is just right for the production’s current
tour of off the beaten track community centres and church halls. While
it’s not always clear which age-group the play is aimed at, it never
patronises those who are in attendance. Which is why the end, whispers
have been silenced, and lessons might just have been learnt.

The Herald, November 7th 2011

ends

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