Theatre review: Flo, Glasgow

Kirsty Stuart gives a fearless performance. Picture: Leslie Black

Kirsty Stuart gives a fearless performance. Picture: Leslie Black

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Now this is strange; for in the same week that saw the Traverse Scottish premiere of Catherine-Anne Toupin’s Right Now, a very rare play about the passion and trauma of new motherhood, here comes a brand new monologue by award-winning Scottish writer and actor Martin McCormick on exactly the same theme.

Flo | Oran Mor, Glasgow | Rating ****

Helen, our heroine, is the partner of a young Scottish doctor who, just before the birth of their first child, has persuaded Helen to come with him to Iraq, where he is working for the international Red Cross.

Alone in the Red Cross compound all day – except for the screaming baby, Florence – Helen is shaken by a continuous storm of frightening, unhinged emotions; unreasoning fury at her husband who can still just walk away and go to work, alternating passion for her newborn daughter and rage at her demands, self-disgust at her own inadequacy, and a ferocious hostility to the strange environment around her.

Having set up this powerful situation, McCormick seems slightly unsure what to do with it; he opts in the end for a slightly idealised and stereotyped final crisis, propelling Helen into contact with an Iraqi desert culture that proves to know more than she does about how to mend a broken car, and about the fierce and gentle art of breast-feeding. Yet given fearless performance from Kirsty Stuart as Helen, it’s a conclusion that works well enough; not least as a metaphor for one of the transitions all new mothers must undergo, as they enter into whole new worlds of inter-dependency, and learn to live in that altered state.

• Flo also at the Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, from tomorrow until Saturday

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