City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Day the Pope Emptied Croy, Traverse Theatre, Review

By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 25 March 2015

Show Details
Traverse Theatre
Traverse Theatre Company
Emma Callander (director), Gary Morgan (stage manager), Tom Saunders (lighting and sound)
Sean Purden Brown (Chris), Nathan Byrne (Ranald), Kieran Gallacher (Barr)
Running time: 

On the day of Pope John Paul XXIII’s visit to Glasgow, Barr and Ranald are busy attempting to steal the communion chalice from a Catholic church in Croy.

Croy lies on the rail line to Stirling, one more central belt town that has grown too small and unpleasant for this pair, who intend to use their ill-gotten gains to finance an escape to a squat in Newcastle.

High on glue, their bungled attempted robbery is interrupted by the cries and then appearance of Chris, victim of a homophobic attack.

Although this last is presented as a coup de theatre, its impact is undercut by its improbability. What had until then been a well-constructed exploration of relationship and sexuality stumbles under the weight of the author’s preoccupations and veers dangerously close to collapse beneath them.

Ranald, straight (or straight-acting?) takes the wiser course of escape from a home and town from which he is alienated, leaving Barr locked in a closet of his own construction to perpetuate a circle of violence against the too-obviously named Chris.

Some of the same territory has already been explored, notably over twenty years ago by Rona Munro in A Night at the Commodore, with rather more irony and deftness of touch than is evident here.

Although the format of ‘A Play, a Pie and a Pint’ necessitously limits the avenues playwrights can open up for discussion in the time available, it’s a pity McCormick’s focus is as narrow as it is here.

Such are the vagaries of theatrical production and reception that occasional unfortunate encounters are an unavoidable part of a reviewer’s experience, and both parties can but chalk them up to the same.

Audiences whose own experience may be closer to that of McCormick’s characters may find encounter with them more rewarding then this reviewer did.

Runs till 28 March,