Tag Archives: Clare Rooney

REVIEW: Rabbie The Man – The Shed, Shawlands, Glasgow

Now in its second year, Tram Direct’s Rabbie The Man is The Shed’s alternative Burns’ Night, and it aims to put the man behind the annual revelries firmly at centre stage.

Revered from Tokyo to Moscow, every year there are celebrations to the great man on the 25th January the world over. However, Burns is a man of many contradictions, inspiration to liberal thinkers and socialists, ploughman poet and society darling, serial philanderer as well as loving and devoted husband, Burns means many things to many people.

Most of the elements that those familiar with the traditional celebrations are all here in Rabbie The Man: The Selkirk Grace; The Toast to the Lassies; The Immortal Memory, there’s even haggis, but are entertainingly woven through with a dramatised biography of the life of The Bard. Isobel Barrett’s script manages to present a healthily balanced portrait of a man who attracts the undiminished adulation of a nation. Burns is charismatically played by Colin McGowan who delivers a well-judged performance of this complex and often conflicted man and the evening is rounded out by songs, poetry and reflection: Ae Fond Kiss and A Red, Red Rose are beautifully sung by Gill Gilmour, a spirited rendition of Holy Wullie’s Prayer is given by Graeme Dallas and a heartfelt and eloquent Immortal Memory by David Sturgeon.

For those who want a slightly different take on the traditional Burns supper.

 

REVIEW: Tenement 12 – Cottiers Kelvinbridge, Glasgow

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Opening on a 1950’s tenement living room replete with the trappings of Catholic observance, Liam Lambie’s Tenement 12 tells the tale of Mamie McClure – single mother, housewife, good neighbour, friend and backstreet abortionist.

This gritty and relentless work presented by Shoogalie Road Productions highlights the attitudes towards unwanted pregnancy and mental health in the 50’s, presenting the background to Mamie’s life and the circumstances behind each abortion as a series of vignettes which offer no opinions, just the facts as each protagonist sees it – leaving the audience to draw its own conclusions.

It cleverly presents both sides of the coin – was she doing it purely to survive as she claims; the only person desperate women could turn to in an age when abortion was illegal, contraception hard to come by and poverty rife, or was it for the £5 a time fee, in an era when the average working man’s weekly wage was just that amount. Just how could any practising Catholic, especially of that time, assuage her conscience so easily? The ease with which she can talk about holidays or the weather while she carries out the procedure, with equipment stored in an innocent looking biscuit tin, is chilling. Was she an angel or a devil in disguise – an early pro-choicer, or an opportunist – you decide.

As Mamie McClure, Clare Rooney carries a lot of the weighty dialogue on her shoulders and possibly because of the effort of remembering it she loses something in the delivery, her performance was lacking a little light and shade and certainly variety of expression. That said, she portrays Mamie’s warmth and reassuring presence well. Stand out amongst the supporting cast is Carol Pyper Rafferty whose finely nuanced portrayal of Pat is utterly convincing, her surety of touch makes her a compelling presence on stage. Worthy of praise too is Nicola Clark as Sadie – neighbour, mother and woman whose life ambitions have been erased by eight children, no money and limited choice.

Lambie’s writing captures the era well, the dialogue cleverly echoing the banter between working class women of the 50’s, peppered as it is with Scottish homilies and colloquialisms. This is not an easy watch nor could it be labelled “entertainment”, instead it offers an interesting and compelling insight into a side of life that is so often swept under the carpet – but it is a tale which deserves to be told. With a little trimming and maybe more contrast in tone this work could have legs. New Scottish writing should be applauded and encouraged and Lambie’s play is a welcome addition.

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