A meeting in a Scottish classroom between Malawi exchange student Susan (Teri Ann Bobb-Baxter) and 50 something local handyman Gerry (Alan McHugh) exposes more commonalities than differences.
When Susan arrives to set up for her talk on Malawi to Scottish school children, Gerry the handyman is already in the room. Despite the age and cultural differences, they get on and where the play will go in that regard is not clear. However, some way in it does becomes clear that there is an agenda beyond any potential sexual interest.
Cathy Forde has written an engaging, light hearted and at times funny two hander, well performed by the actors, that weaves throughout its narrative the story of the charity Mary’s Meals - its beginnings, its founder, its inspiration and its ethos.
Susan is the embodiment of one of the millions whose life has been changed through a daily mug of ‘phala’ or porridge but Gerry is one in a million by being an open and accepting human being. Their mutual love of music from blues, soul, R & B, jazz and The Beatles results in a tennis match exchange of facts and some mean rapping across the piece from the two actors.
It is full of rich, keenly heard language, the Scots part well delivered by McHugh as the deceivingly unreconstructed Scottish male. This is a man who never refers to his wife by name, only as either ‘her’ or ‘she’, and who calls the elegant Miss Susan ‘doll’ without offence being given or taken and who in turn takes no offence at the Malawi term for a ‘white monkey’ used about him. While this sounds a bit sugary and idealistic, it is the positive, powerful message embedded behind these particular words that rings out clearly. That message, as Jimmy Reid often said, is that given the chance people can make worthwhile lives.
The simple poignancy of a boy’s words “I want to have enough food to eat and to go to school one day.” inspired the start of the charity Mary’s Meals. Cathy Forde’s play may be partisan, didactic and a less than covert vehicle for its advertising, with flyers for the charity being handed out at the end, but its theatrical elements are good enough to forgive that. At a time when we have the disgrace of foodbanks and breakfast clubs in 21st century UK there are worse reasons to put on a play.
Tue 13 – Sat 17 Oct, 1pm /Fri 16 Oct, 1pm & 7pm Age Recommend