Theatre review: Beg, Borrow, Steal

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THE thing about Cher, maybe, is that she catches Tess at a weak moment. Tess is the manageress of an old-fashioned department store, busy and harassed at work; but in her private life there’s an emptiness, left not only by the husband who has left her, but by the student daughter who won’t answer her calls.

Oran Mor, Glasgow ***

So when Cher appears in her office – just another young shoplifter – she goes through the routine; photograph, warning, threat to call the police if it happens again. The only problem is that Cher – stylish, penniless and pregnant – seems to like this routine with Tess. So week after week, back she comes; while the two women learn more about one another, and Tess begins to attract the ire of her boss for not calling in the cops.

It’s a fine dramatic set-up, in this debut Play, Pie And Pint play by Anita Alexander Rae, winner of the 2017 David MacLennan Award for an emerging playwright; and for the first 35 minutes or so, the dialogue spins along in fine style. Eventually, Alexander Rae faces the problem of how to end the play, and the climactic scene drifts off into an over-long, over-emotional dialogue involving Cher’s feelings about her junkie mother. What’s left, though, is a heartfelt, decently-made piece about love and need, and how people form new kinds of families; and it certainly benefits from two fine performances from Molly Innes as Tess, and a painfully young yet formidably elegant Natali McCleary as Cher, the shoplifter with attitude who somehow becomes, for Tess, much more than that.

JOYCE MCMILLAN

Final performance today

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