The Chooky Brae
It’s a little disconcerting to step out of a balmy late summer’s evening into an auditorium filled with festive songs and walk past a stage set whose centrepiece is a Christmas tree. But then playwright DC Jackson was always going to want to round off his Stewarton trilogy in style, and what better fodder for a sharp-eyed chronicler of small-town life than the one day of the year where families are almost guaranteed to have arguments.
Though Jackson’s play is a bare hour-and-a-half there’s enough tension in the Gordon family household to fill twice that length. Dad Gordon has had a stroke; son Barry is unemployed and pining for his ex-girlfriend, and daughter Norma has fallen for neighbourhood smartass Rab, whose brother just happens to be the father of her child. Presiding over this seasonal misery is mum Irene, who is determined to roll out a happy family Christmas at all costs.
The claustrophobic farce is broader and blacker than either of the previous entries in Jackson’s trilogy, and while it’s great to touch base with Norma, Barry and Rab once again, this instalment lacks the intricacy and wider insight of those earlier works and doesn’t seem a suitably decisive end to the series. The writing still sparkles, though, and it’s the characteristic wit and acute observations of the lines that will stay with you as you make your way from the theatre to the strains of ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland’.
Currently touring throughout Scotland. Seen at Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 8 Sep