The Artist Man and the Mother Woman (3 stars)

Morna Pearson's Doric-infused play is an odd mix of domestic comedy and crude double-entendres with a tabloid dénouement

The Artist Man and the Mother Woman

At first glance this new play from Elgin-born dramatist Morna Pearson resembles a treatment for a grotesque sitcom. Geoffrey Buncher (Garry Collins) alternates between his job as an art teacher and a claustrophobic home-life with his mother, Edie (Anne Lacey), who has so infantilised her son that he still runs to her in the night for a spooning. After reading that his is one of the top ten sexiest professions, Geoffrey wonders if getting a girlfriend will help alleviate the bullying he suffers at school, and, following a couple of false starts, meets kooky, lonely Clara (Molly Innes) – much to mother’s distaste.

The opening scenes of Pearson’s play are an odd mix of domestic comedy and crude double-entendres that appear to have wandered in from a Carry On film. Orla O’Loughlin’s production is further hampered by an inelegant set that rumbles slowly back and forward between scenes, though the unevenness of tone is leavened by the overall richness of Pearson’s dialogue, which is infused with a gentle, understated Doric.

However, just as the play is settling in as an enjoyable enough, if heavily caricatured, black comedy, the plot does an abrupt volte-face that takes it into tabloid territory, and the sensational ending, when it comes, feels less tragic than a sign that the plot has run out of steam.

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, until Fri 17 Nov.

The Artist Man and the Mother Woman

The Traverse directing debut of recently appointed Artistic Director Orla O'Loughlin. A new play by Morna Pearson, this black comedy is about a middle-aged art teacher, still living with his mother, who sets out to get a girlfriend.


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