It’s 1983, the East End of Glasgow and dyed-in-the-wool Celtic fan Archie McCann’s daughters Kathleen and Tricia are getting married on the same day. That day just happens to be the day of the League Cup final between Old Firm rivals Celtic and Rangers. To add to the mayhem, future sons-in-law Kevin and Billy have season tickets for opposite sides of Glasgow’s great footballing divide. Will it be football or family that wins in the end? Alan Brady’s Two Tribes explores familiar tropes from the sectarian troubles of the city and life in the outrageous 80s.
The packed audience at Webster’s laughed heartily throughout, enjoying Brady’s play thoroughly and they had a brace of fine performances to thank for it, Sarah Meikle convinces as daughter Kathleen as do Alex Nimmo and Colin McGowan as Kevin and Billy, but standout among them is the actress playing clairvoyant, nosy next-door neighbour Maggie, who garners the lion’s share of the evening’s laughs.
While this is rich subject matter, the narrative needs more focus and there were long periods where it all seemed to be going nowhere and already laboured jokes were repeated unnecessarily, there was also an astonishing amount of profanity, in a city where swear-words are used as everyday adjectives it was still too much.
There is though, an attempt to deliver more depth, the plot thread with CND supporting wife Rita pondering a life unfulfilled has some beautifully observed moments and some cracking lines, as did the reflections on Maggie the clairvoyant’s life, but it was all a bit lost in a sea of crassness and cheap laughs. There’s potential here and with a fresh pair of outside eyes on it, really could deliver the goods.