Clyde Unity come to London for the first time as winners of this year's Independent Theatre Award, and their play is a wee beaut. The plot is straightforward, and potentially even trite: Sandy and Isla are best friends; after a car crash she suffers serious mental and physical injury, and in a series of conversations Sandy reawakens her memories and watches her slowly recover (it's a major breakthrough when Isla – Mari Binnie – haltingly stammers those three little words, "Away tae fuck!"). Naturally, there are flashbacks to childhood and adolescence, as the tearaway minister's daughter mimes to Lena Zavaroni records while the mammy's boy shuffles in embarrassment, preferring "Mame".
While Stephen Docherty's Sandy cracks a lot of self-deprecating "queeny" jokes, this isn't a heavy-agenda Gay Play, but a celebration of a friendship of differences that happen to include sexual orientation. Writer John Binnie has built up an impressive set of credentials by doing it himself, founding Clyde Unity to tour theatres and community venues with new Scottish work. Without being London-snobbish, he and they deserve the recognition this award will bring them. The play is short (75 minutes without an interval), beautifully bittersweet and boasts a brace of affecting performances. In brief, it charms the husk right off of the corn.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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