Theatre review: Don’t Cry For Me Kenny Dalglish

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Before discussing this low-key piece of new writing from writer, director, producer and actor Andy Macmillen, it’s important to add some important qualifiers.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (Venue 53)

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The first is that Macmillen gives the impression of being a non-professional actor who delivers the scripts merely capably, with a soft and melodic voice, and a searching gaze. His performance’s rawness and simplicity might drag down a lesser play, but in the role of stoic, middle-aged, working-class Scot Danny McClure, such low-key delivery is acceptable.

The opening is modest. Danny remembers his youth in the 1970s, his loves of Celtic FC, their star striker Kenny Dalglish and David Bowie’s Berlin era, and his trip to Argentina to follow Ally’s Army through a 1978 Scottish World Cup campaign noted for a wealth of typically Scots footballing over-optimism. Danny details each game, sings each anthem and remembers a woman named Claudia he met and fell in love with (“I called her Cloudy, because she reminded me of a nice day in Glasgow”).

So far, so run of the Fringe mill. Yet when the party’s over and Danny returns home, Macmillen’s play begins to reach much further and deeper. Danny joins the army, and in 1982 he’s back in South America, fighting to retake the Falklands from the Argentine army. Danny remembers Cloudy and happy times, and wonders where she is now.

Despite its limitations, the play reveals itself as a high quality piece of writing, a compact symphony to the working classes of Scotland and Argentina, united by football, music, war and a troubled history of division in one nation and dictatorship in the other. It skips from class politics to nationalism to a love story to a memorial for those murdered in Argentina, and the lightness and confidence of Macmillen’s authorial touch is pleasing.

At least one audience member was in tears at the end; with a professional production team behind it, this script would surely earn standing ovations on any of Scotland’s new writing stages.

Until tomorrow. Today 7:10pm.