The word ‘dysfunctional’ is bandied around a lot in terms of family relationships. The word ‘normal’ seems to fit the bill better. A close look at most families will reveal rents and tears whose repair are be well beyond the skills of the most magical Turkish tailor.
David Harrower’s tightly written two- hander exposes the tram line lives of an Edinburgh brother and sister who haven’t spoken for nearly 15 years. Athol (Lewis Howden) is married and a fairly successful businessman living in a bungalow in Houston, Renfrewshire. Morna (Pauline Knowles) is a lippy single parent who lives a in a tenement in Edinburgh’s Dalry and cleans in the Grange and the New Town. Morna’s son Joshua is approaching his 21st birthday. He is an artist with an interest in graphic novels, who keeps a diary in that form. His obsession with the terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport takes him to visit his Uncle Athol as the perpetrators had been his neighbours.
With keen central belt references throughout, Harrower has created a raw exposure of these divergent lives that had once been entwined. The delivery of the separate monologues is an apt metaphor for their diverse lives and ways of living. The sparse set with its symbolic windows of tenement and bungalow serves well as a simple backdrop to the rich speech delivered with strength by Howden and Knowles. Harrower blends real events through the fictional text with believable skill. He exposes the class system that operates within the Capital’s short radius as well as how otherwise canny neighbours can draw together in crisis. Subtle lighting and suitable slow airs add to the play’s atmosphere.
The Kings’ Theatre feels like a bit of a barn for such a direct and intimate play but that aside this measured if discordant melody with its shivery ambivalent ending is utterly absorbing.
This is the first time A Slow Air has toured in Scotland and is part of Borderline’s 40th Anniversary celebrations.
22-24 May, 7.30pm