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Harold and Maude

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars
There’s something naively life-affirming about Colin Higgins’ love 
story between well-heeled nihilistic teenager Harold and seventy-nine 
year old free-spirit, Maude. Higgins’ own stage version of the 1971 
cult film he scripted for director Hal Ashby was a commercial flop on 
Broadway, and it’s not difficult to see why from Theatre Jezebel’s 
Glasgay! revival. It’s not that it’s bad. It’s just that a black comedy 
based around a kid who fakes multiple suicides inbetween hanging around 
funerals makes more sense now than it probably did during that awkward 
period in American social history when the summer of love had given way 
to something darker and more cynical.

While Kenny Miller’s vivid, scarlet-coloured production taps into the 
play’s period oddity, it also shines a beacon on how disaffected youth 
can be woken up to life by their elders in a way that might easily be 
applied to today. Miller allows his cast to breeze through what becomes 
an off-kilter comic romp with a set of heightened performances to suit. 

In the central roles, Tommy Bastow’s sullen brattishness as Harold is 
offset by Vari Sylvester’s deliciously kooky vivaciousness as Maude. 
There’s dry support too from Anita Vettesse as Harold’s distracted 
mother and Richard Conlon as the inevitably sex-obsessed therapist.

There’s a wonderfully confused exchange between Sylvester and Vettesse 
as it slowly dawns on Harold’s mother that the girl of her boy’s dreams 
is actually standing before her. The pathos that follows during Maude’s 
eightieth birthday celebrations may be a final fling for her, but it’s 
as if Harold has just woken up to life in this sweetest of 
counter-cultural curios.

The Herald, November 2nd 2012

ends


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