Theatre review: Love and Death in Govan and Hyndland

Stephen Clyde
Stephen Clyde
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Rab C Nesbit writer Ian Pattison has chosen a great title for his latest lunchtime offering at A Play, A Pie And A Pint; yet it is a slightly puzzling one, since while half of the play’s action seems to take place in Hyndland, the other half is clearly set in a tower block in Cardonald, home to the mother of the play’s sole character, a middle-aged writer called Ivan.

Love and Death in Govan and Hyndland ****

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Played with terrific nuance and humour by Stephen Clyde, Ivan is a single man and has problems with commitment; but as the audience soon begins to observe, he seems more than fully committed to his cantankerous old mum, whose final illness and death – not so much bravely borne as greeted with an unimpressed shrug – is the subject of the play.

The idea of the immature middle-aged man learning a few things about himself and about life through the death of a parent is hardly original, maybe even over-familiar. Yet in Alison Peebles’s production, both Pattison and Clyde handle the subject with such lightness of touch, such wry humour cut with real emotion, and such a feeling for the poetry of everyday language, that the effect is both entertaining and moving.

The final message, it seems, is that mothers never really die; they just carry on talking, in your head. And if Ivan’s Mum isn’t quite an iconic character to match Moira, of Alan Bissett’s Moira Monologues, she’s nonetheless on the same ball-park, and playing a good game.

*Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 11-14 October