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The Guid Sisters

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

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