City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

If We Are Women

By Lorraine McCann - Posted on 15 August 2007

Show details
Arkle Theatre Company
Running time: 
Karen Whytock (director)

To paraphrase Chekhov, “Any fool can survive a crisis. It’s
just getting through the daily grind that’s the real challenge.” Clearly, this
is a theme that also resonates with the Canadian playwright Joanna McClelland Glass in this finely-judged four-hander about the gnawing void at the centre of unfulfilled lives.

Set on the patio of an east-coast beachhouse, the story
concerns three generations of the same family: two grandmothers, a mother and a
daughter. Of the grandmothers, Ruth (Val Lennie) is an all-but-illiterate
farmwife from the Canadian prairie, while Rachel (Carol Davidson) is
a Jewish intellectual who always wanted to write but never has. Her
daughter-in-law Jessica (Esther Gilvray) is herself a writer and recently
widowed by her artist partner, Martin. Her own daughter from en earlier marriage, Polly (Sally Wilson),
has just fallen in love with an ‘unsuitable’ boy. Around and within this is wound a fairly slight subplot concerning a possible betrayal of Jessica by
Martin, but the meat of the piece is to be found in the older women’s
soliloquies on the reasons why their lives never worked out quite as they hoped
they might.

With subtly-textured performances from both older women,
Karen Whytock’s sure-footed direction holds disparate styles together well. And
if the script is a little self-conscious in its literary allusions, the actors
infuse it with more than enough life to hold true. Much more than a dour
exercise in which women just moan about men, the real honesty and cleverness of
the play lies in the challenges that the younger women present to the older
generation’s reading of why they failed to achieve. A solid, family-centred
drama with some fine comic moments, too.