Long Live the Little Knife
Film City, Govan
In a brilliantly painted rococo room at Film City – the old Govan Town Hall – Leddy takes a space like the sliced-off end of a huge ballroom, and drapes it with ladders, paint-spattered dust sheets, assorted junk. The lighting is sometimes flat and ordinary, but can flick suddenly into melodrama.
It’s the perfect location for the 75-minute double monologue of Liz and Jim, two shape-shifting, voice-changing, tackily glamorous scam-merchants, played with a terrific, raging energy by Wendy Seager and Neil McCormack. At first, they’re only making a living selling fake designer handbags – then they venture into the dizzyingly lucrative and complex world of art forgery, where counterfeit meets conceptual art.
Self-conscious theatre – with stage manager Sooz working away in clear view of the audience – is the ideal medium for Liz and Jim, since it’s rarely clear which of their personas is real; they claim that their play is a verbatim real-life drama based on an interview with the playwright in a pub, but immediately point out that, too, could be a lie. Sometimes the text is too dense and labyrinthine to be effective as drama. Sometimes, the characters shape-shift too much to hold our interest. And the play certainly spends too much time cracking in-jokes about the modern art world.
Yet Leddy’s script is also a fantastic exhibition of verbal pyrotechnics, political, satirical, rhythmic, sometimes almost rhyming. And thanks to the sheer force of the acting – and a brilliant closing coup de theatre – Leddy finally makes this often unwieldy show work; makes us think about the final blood-price of a world where nothing is real but cash, and where people are successful deal-makers, or they are nothing.