FringeReview Scotland 2014
Geraldine introduces and then takes us through the experiences of a wide variety of people who have been affected by school sports – from the young prodigy who now is principal carer for his father to an extremely pushy father who wants his son to be a prodigy but ends up with what he deserves and everything in between in an episodic piece that whilst patchy never dips below enthralling.
Geraldine appears out of the audience and in the middle of the hangover to challenge all pickled onion snacks. Beginning with a gag ridden monologue she brings on the cast with song before a number of episodes takes us through the young lad whose family would rather be disguised than proud of his participation, a divorced father challenging the idea of non competitive sports on behalf of his non academic son, support staff organising “the book”, a sister trying to get under the meditative skin of her zen runner of a brother as well as catchy songs and many other highly impressive dialogues.
Perhaps the most remarkable achievement is the feeling that despite crediting 22 writers and 5 song writers this performance piece feels like a whole. Geraldine may fill in the gaps and keep the pace up but there are a number of threads that weave before us and create a wonderful tapestry. Guy Hollands and Neil Packham are to be congratulated in getting such a diverse number of writers interwoven into a storyline.
With community theatre the performances will always be a combination of revelatory and less than on the button. With community theatre we want to see things as an entire experience so pointing out individuals or criticising non professionals may be seen as going against the spirit but it would ignore some fantastic performances. Those performances have come from years of putting on performances, attending workshops and spending hours in rehearsal rooms. Perhaps not all of them have had as much spent on them as Sports Day or received quite as much attention but what we get stands on the shoulders of such endeavour and is a credit to all onstage. Whilst the audience may have been mainly made up of sympathetic friends and family it still needs craft to deliver the killer line, to elicit the right level of sympathy and guts to touch upon subjects from which others would shy. All of that is on display here in abundance.
Behind them and very much part of them was a band that became as much of the story as the actors. Integrated music and choreography was right on the button and with the sweet end song about Glasgow being home we left with a nostalgic last note.
It was a simplistic set with theatre arts at a minimum is some places but theatre at a premium throughout.
Playing the accordion and keeping us all in line was Joyce Falconer as Geraldine. Being the professional actor in amongst this cast was taken as a privilege and Falconer gave us the right caricature and pace to drive things forward. It was a perfect blend that made the evening much more enjoyable.
If I had any criticism it was just a need to tighten up on some of the pieces and the changes. … and that’s all folks I actually just loved this. In fact the forgotten lines, tabs that hit chairs and the below par performances were just as much a part of an exceptional experience I shared with a decent crowd in the audience who enjoyed coming out to the theatre on a rainy night as much as I did.
The Citizens are to be applauded, not because they have dipped their toe into community theatre but because this was an evening that demonstrated that community theatre is as much about theatre as it is about the community. The cast – all of the cast – have proven just how vibrant and important having such a diverse and inspirational group ought to be to all theatre. Can the others please take note…