FringeReview Scotland 2017
Three couples – all grandfathers and their grandsons, the grandsons ranging from toddler to 21 – tell us of their time together and relationships in a verbatim piece of joy. One by one they run through examples of their relationships, show us them at play and when things are more serious. With sufficient theatricality to mark this out as a significant means through which we got to explore, ask questions and understand more about family and having real relationships with men of stature, it takes us away for an hour to explain what being part of a real family truly means.
There are certain things that theatre does well; when it remembers we are in the room with it and it does not have to throw artifice over honesty to provide us with truth it shows us true mirrors and reflections that have value to our everyday lives. Here Glas(s) performance, on the evidence of Old Boy, is cornering a market on it. This is the kind of theatrical enterprise that I got into the business for and for just in excess of an hour I just smiled till my face ached.
So, this was not filled with bangs and spectacle, it was not performed by professionals and it hardly explored any overly dramatic nor earthy subject matter, but it was just the honest and earthy exploration of what things mean and how they need explored that theatre should be all about. I left with questions, I came with no expectations and in the middle, it was just great.
First up came Sam. Sam is a toddler and played onstage in front of all those people with his granddad Peter; a masterful playdate who kept Sam in the zone throughout; for most of his time without the dummy. Never spat once it was the cutest of the three but who can resist a curly haired blonde with sideways glances at you to melt your hearts?
Then we got Kai and Les with, I presume it was Kai who was 11; an awkward age. Mind you so is your mid 70’s. Here we got to the more serious stuff as Les lost his wife and this was mentioned by Kai and then explained by Les. Wrapped around it was enough by way of genuine love and affection that if Sam had melted your heart, Kai and Les rebuilt it through honesty and genuineness.
Finally, we caught Eoin and Eoin; one Eoin is 21 – an awkward age… Here we saw them at Tae Kwon Do together – they were blue belts – and to end more positivity and over powering love made that heart beat a tad faster and pride come with it. The utter joy of someone behind me joining in and giving instructions to either Eoin was just great. The barriers were broken, and we were with that couple onstage – stuff etiquette and get stuck in! Both Eoins treated it as part of their right to perform.
The soundscape was a mixture of song and mood, and I too remember that band – ELO – which built the mood and just made it. The set was always going to be tricky, but it is to Rachel O’Neill’s credit that we got the childlike, the functional and the artistic in a big light, a wee house and a toy truck all on artificial grass that Kate Bonney lit to perfection.
Performances when you play yourself can be hard to criticise! The theatricality of the delivery and the words used saw a few stumbles which made it far more authentic. It was genuine rather than polished – thank God!
OK I loved it. The framework was right, the theatricality was right, the packaging was on point and it made me smile. The weather was shiny on the way home and it was after dark; good theatre does that to you. What’s next I wonder?