Douglas Maxwell better watch out. Until last year the playwright had cornered the market in whimsical comedies about Ayrshire teenagers. Then along came DC Jackson with The Wall – in which a gang of Stewarton youngsters crossed the threshold from childhood innocence to adult self-awareness – and challenged him at his own game. Now Jackson is back with the Borderline ensemble and The Ducky, a second helping of small-town coming-of-age larks that proves just as loveably funny.
It’s the summer holidays again, but two years have passed and the kids who were finding their feet in The Wall are trying to carve a place in the adult world. For Michelle and Rab, the independence of university has not proved all it’s cracked up to be, while 16-year-old Norma is contemplating the consequences of losing her virginity.
There’s nothing new about this landscape but Jackson invests it with such sharp observation, empathy and wit that it’s impossible not to be charmed. This is especially the case in Jemima Levick’s well-paced production, her actors investing these teenage dramas with the kind of life-and-death urgency only adolescence can summon up. Whether it’s Hannah Donaldson learning about mortality; Finn den Hertog coming to terms with failure; Sally Reid choosing what’s best for her; Alan Tripney getting his girl; or Jonathan Holt discovering the limitations of brawn, the performances are as tenderly drawn as they are hilarious.
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 19–Sat 23 May; Macrobert, Stirling, Thu 28 May. Seen at Eastwood Park Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 6 May