City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Yer Granny, King's Theatre, Review


By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 03 June 2015

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Show Details
Venue: 
King's Theatre
Company: 
National Theatre of Scotland
Production: 
Douglas Maxwell (adaptor), Graham McLaren (director), Colin Richmond (set and costume design), Tim Mitchell (lighting design), Mark Melville (composer and sound design)
Performers: 
Maureen Beattie (Marie), Gregor Fisher (Granny), Louise McCarthy (Marissa), Brian Pettifer (Donnie Francisco), Barbara Rafferty (Aunt Angela), Paul Riley (Charlie), Jonathan Watson (Cammy)
Running time: 
140mins

Douglas Maxwell has described ‘La Nona’, Roberto Cossa’s play on which ‘Yer Granny’ is based as a ‘tragedy with jokes’.

What’s on offer here is rather more a comedy with a dark side. Downwardly-mobile Cammy (Jonathan Watson) and his family suffer blow upon blow to their economic capacity and faux-bourgeois pretensions, largely because of the endlessly voracious appetite of live-in Granny (Gregor Fisher) who spends the two hours traffic of this stage literally eating them out of house and home.

Cammy’s fish and chip shop has failed in the face of competition form his rival across the street, and the family have been forced into a downward spiral, eking out a diminishing existence based on part-time work and the sale of items from their home. When we meet them, crunch time is approaching, especially as Granny’s penchant for comfort eating is causing the gradual loss of family comforts.

It’s a conceit that the cast wholeheartedly support; Cammy’s love-struck Aunt Angela (Barbara Rafferty), dedicated layabout brother Charlie (Paul Riley), and clueless daughter Marissa are all essentially pawns in Cammy’s apparently endless attempts to preserve family ‘honour’ and perpetuate his feud with business rival Donnie Francisco (Brian Pettifer).

The single point of stability is offered by Maureen Beattie’s magnificent Marie, whose efforts to suggest alternatives to the anti-familial behaviour of her relatives fail to make them appreciate the fragility of their positions and leads her to take a final step for her own (and ultimately their) preservation.

It fails, of course, as Cammy and Granny pursue their own selfish paths toward an explosive conclusion.

Great comedic timing, a sharply witty script and fine performances, however, finally fail to overcome what appears to have got lost in translation. One suspects Cossa’s script would resonate more fully with an Argentinean audience, many of whom would have their own memories of previous regimes and their depredations, and in a country that lacks a European-style social security system the sale of one’s goods to put food on the table the plight of this family would be closer to lived experience.

Humour is, of course, supposed to be universal, and there’s a great deal to be enjoyed here, but as the audience trooped out into the chill of a June evening in Edinburgh, one couldn’t help wishing one was in Argentina.

2 to Sat 6 June, 7.30pm (Wed/Sat mat 2.30pm)age recommend 14+

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