City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

A Play, A Pie and a Pint: The Queen of Lucky People, Traverse Theatre, Review

By Vivien Devlin - Posted on 01 May 2014

Eileen Nicholas as Patrice French
Show Details
Traverse Theatre
A Play, A Pie and A Pint with the Traverse Theatre Company
Iain Heggie (writer), Emma Callander (director), Patrick McGurn (design).
Eileen Nicholas
Running time: 

In 1987 the Edinburgh International Festival presented the world premiere of Iain Heggie’s play, A Wholly Healthy Glasgow. Directed by Richard Wilson, this hilarious, loud mouthed, colourfully camp, situation comedy was set in a men’s Health Club.

As a playwright, Heggie continues to create realistic scenarios and dramatise contemporary social, lifestyle and political issues through astute characterisation and satirical humour.

Reading the Traverse flyer for "The Queen of Lucky People", you may imagine the play has a large cast – there’s Patrice, her friend Helen, an upstairs neighbour with an alcoholic boyfriend, a morbidly obese locksmith and a nurse from Eastern Europe.

But in fact this is a 55 minute monologue which focuses on the apparently solitary life and times of Patrice French, recently retired as a College Student counsellor.

The dramatic style is reminiscent of Alan Bennett’s BBC series of monologues, Talking Heads – such as Patricia Routledge as Peggy who manages a strict office routine in “A Woman of No Importance."

In Heggie’s intimate portrait of Patrice, we enter the quiet domestic scene of her living room. The set is simply furnished – an armchair, coffee table with a laptop, bookshelf, soft lamplight. The sound of a dog barking disturbs Patrice as she taps away on the keyboard.

The dog, we learn, belongs to her neighbour in the flat above, who seems to have a new live-in lover, “ twice her age!”, she exclaims aghast. She watches all the goings on, day and night, peeking through the Venetian blind on the window.

Eileen Nicholas portrays Patrice with a subtle depth of character: this gentle, conventional grey haired spinster has the quick intellect of Miss Marple combined with a wicked sense of humour.

Her fascination with other people goes far beyond snooping on “her upstairs.” She has become obsessed with the internet, from You Tube to social networks. On the Lucky People chat room she has around 427 global friends – Columbia, China, Outer Hebrides – as she avidly counts each Awesome and LOL response to her daily posts.

We listen to the light hearted chit chat and gossip about her virtual friends on line and real life acqaintances: Helen (who needs a hip operation), the local vet and locksmith, Brian who has taken over her job at the College, “her upstairs” and the dog who does bark in the night-time.

The mood of the narrative gradually shifts between charming and shocking. As Patrice reveals more about her childhood, beloved mother who distrusted men, and what she really thinks of Helen, are these personal confidences the truth.?

On chat rooms, as we are well aware, people can change their identity and hide behind a mask of pretence.

This wry, pin-sharp comedy observes the power of the internet, the desperate pursuit of popularity and political correctness in our continually changing language. Danger lurks at the touch of the keypad if you upset your friends and followers - Like, Dislike, Friend, Unfriend.

This cleverly constructed mini-play certainly packs a punch with its twists and turns through Patrice’s crazy, complicated life, on and off line. L.O.L. assured!.

Show Times

29 April to 3 May, 2014, 1pm

Ticket price: £12 (includes a play, a pie and a pint of beer/glass of wine/soft drink/tea/coffee).