City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Cuttin A Rug, King's Theatre, Review

By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 08 March 2017

Show Details
King's Theatre
Citizen's Theatre Company
John Byrne (writer), Caroline Paterson (director), Kenny Miller (designer), Grant Anderson (lighting designer)
Mark Barrett (Terry), Paul-James Corrigan (Spanky), Ryan Fletcher (Phil), Scott Fletcher (Hector), Anne Lacey (Miss Walkinshaw), Helen Mallon (Lucille), Louise McCarthy (Bernadette), Shaun Miller (Alan), Barbara Rafferty (Sadie), Laurie Ventry (Willie Curry)
Running time: 

‘Cuttin a Rug’ is the second in John Byrne’s trilogy of plays inspired by his own youthful experiences. Set in Paisley Town Hall in the summer of 1957, it takes the central characters of ‘The Slab Boys’ on a night out at ‘the staffie’, the staff dance for the employees of the carpet factory where the action of the initial play takes place.

Kenny Miller’s cunningly creative set suggests Paisley Town Hall may have been some seventy years ahead of the rest of the world, as Spanky (Paul-James Corrigan), Phil (Ryan Fletcher) and the other male members of the cast appear to share the same toilet space as Lucille (Helen Mallon), Bernadette (Louise McCarthy) and the rest of the ladies. The fast-paced banter that peppers the play allows us to elide over this seeming incongruity, however, and the pace of direction and playing bowls us along and speedily into the ballroom where most of the action takes place.

‘Cuttin A Rug’ is a play where dialogue and action sometimes takes precedence over plot, to a greater degree than is the case with its predecessor. As the characters contend with the confusion a faulty lighting system that plunges them into darkness at unpredictable moments, suggesting ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, the various couples fall in and out with each other as the action progresses.

Caroline Paterson’s direction gives the play the tightness and drive it demands, and the playing of this ensemble leaves nothing to be desired. Lightness of touch combines with integrity and authority from all the actors, to deliver a production that is ultimately both delightful and insightful.

Beyond the confusion of trying to find their respective lumbers in the dark, ‘Cuttin A Rug’ is very much both a celebration, and, inevitably, an elegy for a particular time and place, where the effects of transatlantic culture are beginning to be felt, and the infant progress of what will become rock 'n' roll and all it will lead have yet to bring about changes whose effects remain with us. The characters are caught, not only in the stirrings of their nascent sexuality, but also in the rapids of a revolution.

For all that, the characters are first and last Paisley buddies, John Byrne’s ain folk writ a wee thing large but as gallus, gritty and sometimes glaikit as folk can be, especially when they’re nineteen with a wardrobe full of clothes.

Til Saturday 11 March