Theatre review: Rough Island, Glasgow

Oran Mor, Glasgow. Picture: TSPLOran Mor, Glasgow. Picture: TSPL
Oran Mor, Glasgow. Picture: TSPL
IT’S 13 July 1985, the day of Bob Geldof’s iconic Live Aid concert. There’s no chance of a trip to London or Philadelphia, though, for the four kids featured in Nicola McCartney’s new Play, Pie and Pint drama.

Rough Island

Oran Mor, Glasgow

* * * *

They’ve travelled only as far as Inchgarvie, a fictional island not far from their home in Motherwell, and even when posh punk Joanne manages to track down the concert on her giant ghetto-blaster, their views on the music being played there often border on the contemptuous.

As the play begins, the level of aggression and nastiness simmering among the four characters – Joanne, her best friend Sharon, Sharon’s bullying boyfriend Gary, and Gary’s hopeless wee brother Stephen – seems excessive, even repellent.

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Gary’s hair-trigger violence is frightening, Joanne and Sharon exchange savage insults, and everyone mocks poor Stephen, brilliantly played by Barrie Hunter in a wig and school uniform.

As the play unfolds though, McCartney’s grip on the big themes of the 1980s – the death of heavy industry, the arrival of an age of individualism that these kids both reject and embody – begins to shape a compelling drama; a tragedy in miniature that offers a powerful snapshot of a generation haunted by change, as Alasdair McCrone’s production sets off on a Highland tour, alongside last year’s Oran Mor show Doras Duinte.

• Rough Island is at Oran Mor until today, and on tour throughout the Highlands and Islands until 8 March. (Seen on 3.2.14)

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