Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
August, 2001

*** Iain Heggie's grim comedy is an acquired taste

It's not shocking or disgusting in any way, but every single character is just a little too intense for it to work completely.

Andrene is declining into senile dementia in a nursing home. Her carer, Larry, turns out to be the former gay lover of her son Derek. When Derek visits for the first time in several years, with his new girlfriend in tow, it becomes apparent that everyone wants a slice of Andrene's wealth and Derek's past will not stay secret very long.

Heggie writes with ease and power... too much power, sometimes. Each of the four characters engages in high-speed argument, doing U-turns for no apparent reason; each of them hectors each of the other three, none of them is the locus of more than a wisp of audience sympathy and the final reversal has "Dramatic Device" written all over it. There are black laughs aplenty, but the play neither possesses a heart nor makes a disarming virtue of its heartlessness.

Still, Philip Howard's production bowls along, with Edith Macarthur shining as the batty Andrene and Eric Barlow as a great camp bear of a Larry.

Written for divento.com

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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