Jings! Thon nice laddie Rob Drummond has only gone an’ gi’en Dudley D Watkins offae DC Thomson’s famous cartoon femily a 21st Century mak’ower, seein’ as they’ve hit the 80 year auld mark, wi’ this postmodern musical comedy, o’ sorts.
Crivvens!! Bonny Maggie (Kim Allan, braw) is aboot tae get merried. Maw (a smashin’ Joyce Falconer) is sufferin’ fae empty nest syndrome, an’ aw the rest ur goin’ intae existentialist meltdoons, oan accont ae their character limitations.
Help ma boab!!! Paw (Paul Riley, whit a stoater) is accusin’ Maw o’ haein’ an affair wi’ his brother (who looks awfy like him, whit wi’ it bein’ a double role…)
Modernity is a funny thing, when it comes to updating popular, long-running formats. Drummond’s script plays with very Scots institutions- pub singers (in Falconer’s hilarious cover of Eddi Reader’s Patience of Angels) parochialism, sentimentality, pugilism and family bonds. He keeps the episodic structure and singalongs traditional, but there are some concessions- such as dating app Lumber, gags about gay ministers,River City and Greggs the bakers.
The story, such as it is, involves Maw’s attempts to thwart Maggie’s marriage plans, and the whole clan are of course dragged along for the ride.Meanwhile Daphne (a superb Laura Szalecki) and Hen (Tyler Collins) bring pathos to their roles, struggling to overcome the laughs at their expense, with regards to, respectively, obesity and gangliness.
Add in Becky Minto’s functional soft-play area -like logo which is as evocative of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In as cartoon panels, and you’ve got a broad comedy with some sharp twists. It’s like a tartan picnic blanket with a few thistle thorns underneath. Sure, not all the jokes land, and the Twins are little more than Vic and Bob’s shrill-voiced Stotts, but with a cute Maureen Carr stealing many scenes as The Bairn with her unexpected eloquence,it is smarter than your average family show. Andrew Panton’s direction keeps the action whizzing along, as if he’s been drinking too much orange stuff (Irn Bru, not whisky). And at least the Krankies aren’t involved.
Reviewed at Theatre Royal, Glasgow