Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 27 Apr, then touring
The traumatic and uncertain business of separation, be it of nations, lovers or families, creates a lasting emotional impact upon who we are and how we define ourselves. In 7:84’s new piece, composed of four separate short plays, each dealing with the trauma of separation, and commenting on the politics of the divided and dividing state, the action moves from the airily metaphorical to the bluntly direct.
Interestingly, it is at the polar ends of the scale that the plays are most successful. Haresh Sharma’s Eclipse is a monologue in which a contemporary Asian man explores the division of his family around the division of India. He transforms before us into his errant father and his entrepreneurial grandfather in the course of the piece, as ever present political events alter patterns of family, sexuality and affluence throughout. If this piece is direct in its politics, Linda McLean’s Doch - An - Doris (A Parting Drink) is so elliptical that, but for Kai Fischer’s multimedia design, flashing images of the political separations of Ireland, India, Croatia and, potentially, Scotland across a video screen, it might be seen as a simple family drama, with some deftly comic touches. Yet it has a warmth and humour, coming from inspired observations of the nuances of family life that makes it tremendously endearing. In it, two grown-up children attempt, as the family awaits the arrival of a divorce lawyer at a sidewalk café, to reconcile their irritatingly anal mother and repressive, curmudgeonly father.
Nicola McCartney’s Wound, which sets a violent and disruptive adopted child against two exhausted and desperate parents, with a local paramedic trying to play referee as he tends the latest family injuries, might amount to a neat metaphor about a divided Ireland, but whether the action is more talky and televisual than it needs to be is a moot point. So too, Selma Dimitrijevic’s A Time To Go gets a little stuck in its metaphor, about a son trying to persuade his father to attend his wedding, and finding that dad’s objections are more complex than they seem. It’s a mixed bag from director Lorenzo Mele, but on the whole, worth a watch, with a nervous, but at times compelling performance from Umar Ahmed as three generations of Asian men, and a really witty turn from Billy Riddoch as the grumpy Scottish dad.