Saturday, March 29, 2008

"The Wall" - March 2008

I went along to Borderline's production of D C Jackson's "The Wall" at Cumbernauld Theatre having very much enjoyed his "Out on the Wing" last week at Oran Mor. We'd also been impressed by the performances of cast members Kirstin McLean and Scott Hoatson in previous NTS Young Co productions such as "The Recovery Position" and by Gregory Thomson's direction in "Molly Sweeney". But it's always a danger to go to a show with high expectations.

Before seeing the show I'd described what I expected the show to be as "Gregory's Girl without the football bits" and I don't think that's far off the mark, but there's more than a little of the feel of "The Breakfast Club" in there too. We meet a group of teenagers stuck in an isolated village as relationships amongst them, and with unseen family members, build and change over a few days in the school holidays.

Scott Hoatson's Barry and Kirstin McLean's Michelle's fledgling romance suffers ups and downs as (well signposted) secrets are revealed and we also meet Barry's younger sister Norma (Sally Reid) and local 'bam' Rab (Finn den Hertog). All four give fantastic performances getting the most out of Jackson's well crafted comic moments, but they also manage to silence the audience at times as the mood switches - far more successfully than "Little Voice" managed last week. There are a couple of moments when it comes close to making a point too forcefully but they are few and far between. For the most part this is all about the funnies - and they are very funny.

Reid makes Norma almost Catherine Tate-esque without ever becoming irritating, while Hoatson and McLean are a delightful double act of subtle looks and glances displaying perfect comic timing. Fin den Hertog's Rab is gloriously performed as pure cliche, but Jackson cleverly manages to provide even him with an extra dimension.

At times some of the 'scene' changes were a little laboured but I felt the pace of the action itself was well considered. I'm not generally a fan of what is largely a series of two handed scenes but they were all short and sharp enough that I never felt it drag - even at a longer runtime than I had expected of a full two hours. I'm not sure I'm quite prepared to buy into "The Wall" as a social commentary of youngsters today, or even its 2005 setting, but for well written and perfectly performed comedy I'm not sure I'll see better this year.

The Wall is nearing the end of its tour but still has dates in Eastwood, St. Andrews & Dundee.

Image by Douglas Robertson used with permission.

2 Heckles

Anonymous said...

I saw The Wall at Eastwood Park Theatre on 2nd April as it approached the end of its run, and have to admit it was the most I had laughed in a while! A combination of what felt like real-life or familiar situations grotesquely over-played, with a spattering of good gags and local patter. Ye cannae whack it for comedy value!

I don't know if it was differently set from the previous week given the size of the stage, but we didn't have scene changes? There were certainly changes of lighting state to set up the preceding scene which seemed to be indicative of a change of mood or tone and a passing of time, but I thought these had artistic merit and I personally didn't think it detracted from the pace of the production.

I hope someone considers filming it at a later date, it would probably adapt well to screen.


Waldorf said...

Hi Kris

No it was the same set you saw. The transitions between the different scenes just seemed like they could be sharper at times(especially when no humphing of scenery or costume changes was required). It was a minor thing, but we did feel that the pacing suffered a little.

Having said that they were only in Cumbernauld for one night, so with strange theatres to adjust to it's maybe a little understandable.