Friday, March 30, 2007

"Ice Cream Dreams" - March 2007

It was a brave decision by TAG and the Citizens to team up two professional actors with the Citizens Community Company, members of the Citizens Young Company and a group of former addicts. To then stage the production in the main theatre rather than the Circle Studio was beyond bravery. Now seems a good time to add a quick reminder that as with reviews of all community/amateur productions no allowances have been made - we expect the same high standards for all shows.

Set around the time of the Glasgow "Ice Cream Wars" the play focuses on brother and sister Barry and Jo-jo McConn - their battle to keep Jo-jo off the heroin that is sweeping the city, and their dead father's own alcohol dependency. Martin McCardie's tale also introduces some of the other characters in the drug scene and a large chorus with their own personal takes on the impact of drugs.

Helen McAlpine & Owen Gorman as Jo-jo and Barry hold the central story together well and McAlpine in particular gives an excellent portrayal of a desperate addict. Performance of the night however belongs to Tom Beattie as their dead father who has a great presence and is obviously completely comfortable on stage. Gavin Forker as "The Landlord" also produces a very effective performance and succeeds in giving the character depth and making him much more sympathetic than he has any right to be. Despite a couple of hesitant moments the rest of the large cast also perform well and it would be difficult to identify the newcomers had we not seen many of the faces before in "My Bloody Valentine"

As a play, McCardie has created a powerful piece of theatre - considerably more so than the much lauded "Aalst". I don't normally like comparing pieces but seeing these two in such quick succession with their similar themes of society's underclass makes it almost impossible not to. Where the repetition of dialogue in "Aalst" seemed disjointed "Ice Cream Dreams" used it to great effect with some surprising and humourous wordplay. "Ice Cream Dreams" also makes much better use of a musical soundtrack.

This was a serious, dark but entertaining show giving a close up look at personal dependency but placing it in the wider context, while asking difficult and uncomfortable questions of the audience - everything issue based drama should be.

Well done to all those involved in putting it together and performing it - with "Ice Cream Dreams" they certainly hit on a winning recipe.