City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

PPP: Billy, the Day of Howling, Traverse Theatre, Review


By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 22 March 2016

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Show Details
Venue: 
Traverse Theatre
Company: 
A Play, a Pie and a Pint, Oran Mor
Production: 
Fabien Cloutier (writer), Nadine Desrochers (translator), Rosie Kellagher (director), Jonathan Scott (designer), Chris Reilly (lighting designer)
Performers: 
Admin Lady (Hilary Lyon), Rosalind Sydney (Alice's Mum), Anthony Strachan (Billy's Dad)

Despite some clever and intricately constructed dialogue exchanges and Anthony Strachan’s near pitch-perfect characterisation of a much put-upon bulletin board installer, ‘Billy, the Day of Howling’ doesn’t quite satisfy.

The opening promises well, with Rosalind Sydney (Alice’s Mum) Hilary Lyon (Admin Lady), and Strachan as Billy’s Dad cutting across one another in some sharply directed non-encounters – for in ‘Billy, the Day of Howling’ monologue rather than dialogue predominates.

Very much in sympathy with the intentions of this play, these rapid singe person verbalisations are intended to mirror our isolated and alienated experiences of the every day.

Do they? One is sometimes left to ponder not so much on the nature of the character’s experiences as to how they may reflect our own. It’s here that the play reveals its own difficulties, which seem in part to belong to the problems of translation, not merely from one language variant (Quebecois) to another (Scottish English) but from one set of cultural and social experiences to those of another place.

A little textual variation might have helped here, but the play’s sometimes frantic cross-cutting does not allow the cast the space they need give their character’s experiences full expression, leaving the text feeling tricksy merely for the sake of it.

Which is a shame, for it feels, despite moments when the bas bourgeoisie are being preached at and a lack of overall focus, that the play may be attempting to articulate something of import.

Lyon, Sydney and Strachan all work hard to keep it on its sometimes-wobbly legs, and deserve all credit for doing so, but even their best efforts leave this play an echo of what could be a mighty roar.

Til 26 March

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