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The Artist Man and the Mother Woman

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
5 stars
It's been five years since Morna Pearson's last main-stage play, but 
this new work more than confirms the promise of one of the freshest, 
most fearless and taboo-bustingly unique voices to be heard anywhere 
right now. In its depiction of how behind closed doors inter-familial 
dysfunctions can squeeze the life out of relationships beyond, 
Pearson's wild and dangerous demotic also manages to be both scabrously 
funny and damningly bleak.

Geoffrey is a thirty-something art teacher who lives with his mother 
Edie, and is bullied by the kids at school. When he reads that he's in 
the top ten sexiest professions, Geoffrey takes a notion to start 
dating after advice from Lynn Kennedy's former pupil turned supermarket 
check-out girl, Evelyn. After a couple of false starts, Geoffrey meets 
Clara, who, as played by Molly Innes, awakens something in him on the 
dance-floor long suppressed. Geoffrey even takes Clara home to meet 
Edie, who is in turn being courted by Lewis Howden's keen vegetable 
grower, Thomas.

If this sounds like a pathway to an obvious happy ending, think again, 
as Pearson's extreme and surreal flights of Doric tabloidese are 
brought fantastically to life in a series of short, sharp and 
spectacularly inappropriate exchanges. As Garry Collins' Geoffrey and 
Anne Lacey's Edie fail to break out of their insular world, it's as if 
Chris Morris had scripted a Viz comic version of Jeremy Kyle 
grotesques. Yes, it's that serious, as Pearson taps into a damaged 
small-town underclass in a fly on the wall drama that reeks of reality 
TV, but is far, far stranger, and all the more magnificent for it.

The Herald, November 5th 2012

ends

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