Edinburgh Fringe 2018
Sandra and Donna got together to present a Cher double act 10 years ago. Times were good and bookings flowed. But recently they have dried up and Donna has made a suggestion to progress the act whilst Sandra thinks it is a step too far. During the course of a break in their bingo hall performance and in their dressing room, they muse on where they are, where they ought to have been and get to name check the high spots of Boilers in Bonnyrigg and Growlers in Tranent, before they return to the stage and take it back for their partnership.
If there were awards for guts, this would sweep the board. There are plenty of laughs and lots of local references to keep a Scottish audience going whilst a more universal audience can get their wallies round the problems of making a living. Donna has a man at home who is not making an effort but may have found himself available online. Dealing with an undiagnosed depressive at home, Sandra takes more to do with the business but that is taking less and less of her time and it’s increasingly looking like she will end up at the cultural desert of Aldi’s.
Both performers have taken to this story with the knowledge of their age but the enthusiasm of many much younger. No stone has been left unturned in mining pathos out of the lack of joy that is heading towards a nursing home, but not to live there but to be the turn. At times though they are a little disjointed in their work together and the harmony they have for the act is not quite matched by working the script for the harmony of moments in the storyline. it looks like it could have done with a few more days in a rehearsal room at times and then it hits you straight back with the revelation of Gary’s antics and it’s back in the groove again.
The script meanders a little with some aspects hitting home – some joy obviously in finding names like Janice Jackson and Status Quo No as well as set pieces that send us towards the inevitable performances.
Both can sing a little, but they are no Chers. Therein lies an issue. The predicated idea is they can sing and there is a need to either improve the pathos and the depth of the drama or be stunning chanters.
I have to be honest and say I could have done without the two Cher numbers before the finale and at times both performers look as though they agree as it takes a lot out of them.
Their costumes though are inspired and having the suits works very well – even if at first it feels a little odd. The voiceover of the bingo is all wheeltappers and shunters – showing my age – and fits perfectly.
Overall, this is a great wee turn that perhaps shows why the act is struggling but at its heart is a story and a drama that I am quite sure has its place in many a miner’s hall up and down the whole of the UK; take the personal and tell it, the audience will make it universal – here it is very true. Though just a tad short of getting the storyline right but nonetheless a great wee time being part of the telling.