Not unsurprising for the National Theatre of Scotland, their latest play â€œYer Grannyâ€ has its roots in political theatre, this time the theatre of 1970s Argentina. Based on â€œLa Nonnaâ€ by Roberto Cossa, this new version set in Scotland, written by Graham Maxwell and directed by Douglas McLaren, uses grotesque farce and broad stereotypes as a visual metaphor for our 70s society.
All credit then to Colin Richmond, the set and costume designer, that we are completely immersed into the decade that taste forgot, from the blaring Bay City Rollers music, to the swirl of clashing nicotine brown patterns that is the decor in the Rosso household. The big names of Scottish theatre are here – Gregor Fisher, Maureen Beattie, Barbara Rafferty – the roll call could go on.
The underlying premise seems ludicrous – Gregor Fisher is Granny, a shambling, predatory monster who voraciously eats everything in sight and threatens to bankrupt the whole family. Consumerism personified, Granny leers, lurches and looms across the stage, apparently indestructible even at 100. Marie (Maureen Beattie) and Cammy (Jonathon Watson) try their best to keep the family going with their failing fish and chip shop, but feckless brother Charlie (Paul Riley) as a non-productive self- proclaimed musician, contributes nothing but occupancy of the sofa. Dimwitted daughter Marissa – â€œDaddyâ€™s wee lambâ€ does earn good money by dubious means, and proves indeed to be the familyâ€™s sacrificial lamb. Aunt Angela, in the most hilarious rant in the play, is zonked, spaced out, and frazzled on speed.
Itâ€™s all a bit Broons meets Mrs Brown and her Boys. In the background is the prospect of the Queen popping by on her Jubilee tour of Britain. That the denouement ends explosively with Granny consuming the Union Jack bunting says it all – visually this play is in your face, panto as polemic.
Well received by the audience, it entertains without great challenge, is amusing rather than thought provoking. The acting, of course, is impeccable.
King’s Theatre until June 6th
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