Wednesday, September 08, 2010

"The Chooky Brae" - September 2010

Two years have passed in Stewarton since we last met Norma Gordon. She and her 18 month old son are living with her divorced parents (her father having returned home after suffering a stroke) and her university drop out brother Barry. Her boyfriend Trevor has got himself stuck overnight in London after a job interview and his brother Rab, is on his way over for a family dinner. Christmas Dinner.

DC Jackson's latest comedy is very much in the same vein as its predecessors - "The Wall" & "The Ducky". There's observational humour that any stand-up would be proud of, sparky banter between characters and a real sense of heart. Some of the youthful energy of the previous shows has been replaced with a more world-weary tone as the characters have grown up and the introduction of Norma and Barry's parents provides a new perspective and counterpoint.

I have to confess that I found some of the early scenes uncomfortable, feeling some of the humour misjudged, and my initial reaction to a plot revelation was that it was uninspired and tired. And yet on reflection, it's a revelation that cleverly throws a new light on those earlier scenes and alleviated any misgivings. The Christmas setting works well in creating the required element of confinement and family tension, but it does feel a little odd to be watching it in September.

Borderline have put together another fantastic cast, with Sally Reid once again making a strong case for Norma Gordon as an icon of contemporary Scottish theatrical comedy. Reid and Scott Hoatson make Norma and Barry's sibling relationship entirely believable while Jordan Young provides most of the laughs as former(?) wannabee 'bam' Rab. Stewart Porter and Anita Vettesse impress as the parents, particularly so considering that they are tasked with what are mainly straight roles in a comedy.

"The Chooky Brae" is a worthy successor to the previous installments of his 'Stewarton Trilogy', but doesn't quite deliver the conclusion its characters deserve - particularly Michelle who is sidelined out of town for this one. But then, hopefully this will turn out to be a 'trilogy' in the "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" sense of the word.

The Chooky Brae runs at the Tron until Satuday 11th September then tours.
Image by John Johnston Photography used with permission.