Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
4 stars A vintage recording of Lulu belting out Shout is the perfect scene-setter for Martin Bowman and Bill Findlay's audacious Scots reimagining of Quebecois writer Michel Tremblay's ensemble piece for fifteen women. It's also a magnificent double-bluff, as Serge Denoncourt's National Theatre of Scotland revival in co-production with the Royal Lyceum proves time and again. Yes, Tremblay's 1960s-set tale of a working-class back-kitchen sorority brought together by Kathryn Howden's blousy Germaine's winning of a million Green Shield Stamps is funny to it's riotous core. Look beyond the fur coat and nae knickers one-up-womanship, however, and you'll find a raging back-street portrait of a post World War Two society fit to bust. Life's a lottery for all of the women who gather to stick Germaine's stamps into books before she transfers them for a catalogue-bought dream home. As each woman repeats in turn, alas, none of them are ever likely to win anything, not even the sacred game of Bingo they sing so lustily of. As each steps out of what looks like a last supper to confess all, a world of envy, martyrdom, acquisitiveness and the desire to escape is laid bare. Of the choices on offer beyond Germaine's Green Shield wealth, the return of Lisa Gardner's once angelic Pierette, now strung-out by too many good times, is a telling indictment of patriarchal capitalism in a kitchen-sink world. Denoncourt orchestrates this mix of bitter-sweet banter, proto-rap chorales and once taboo-busting depictions of real women with a relentless gusto which all onstage grab hold of. When it comes, the explosive redistribution of wealth is a call to arms to be reckoned with.
The Herald, September 27th 2012 ends