Theatre review: The Weir Sisters | Dance review: Tango Moderno
Oran Mor, Glasgow **** | Playhouse, Edinburgh ***
Grace died at 22 during the Second World War, at the hands of her violent husband; Margaret was knocked down by a bus in 1988, after raising a family, working as a cleaner, and winning a university degree in middle age.
Dorothy, though, has made it to 97; and when she arrives, old, confused, and full of rage at being forced to spend her last years in a dreary, patronising care home, Grace and Margaret have only a short time to explain where she is, and to persuade her to recognise them.
This is Lynn Ferguson’s fine new short play The Weir Sisters, the last Play, Pie and Pint show of the autumn; and in the course of a beautifully-written 55 minutes, it gives all three sisters a chance to tell the stories of their lives and deaths, dramatic and violent, partly comic, and truly tragic.
Sandra McNeeley and Meghan Tyler make a fine double-act as Margaret and Grace, well used to the ways of the afterlife; and as Deborah Arnott’s Dorothy gradually throws off her 97 years, and finds herself again by leading us into the heart of her greatest loss, we can all briefly share Lynn Ferguson’s kind, richly imagined dream of an afterworld in which women place the right value on their own lives, at last, and in which – in the words of Grace’s favourite, Vera Lynn – we will all meet again, at least for one day.
Final performance today.
THE show begins with an announcement: sadly Vincent Simone, one half of tonight’s star team, is injured and won’t be performing. Instead, says Flavia Cacace – his dance partner from Strictly Come Dancing days and beyond – she’ll be joined by 11th hour replacements Pascale La Rocca and Leonel Di Cocco.
It’s a situation that would throw anyone, and yet this is the least of Tango Moderno’s worries. Cacace has always been a joy to watch, and tonight is no different. She floats and glides with La Rocca and Di Cocco just as beautifully as she does with Simone – he’s missed, but only just.
Had the whole show been confined to their routines, it would be a hit – backed as they are by strong live musicianship and powerhouse vocals. Alas, their whip-fast legs and passionate embraces are shoe-horned into a storyline that’s packed with lazy stereotypes.
Four men and four women look for love in a contemporary world, where swiping left or right on Tindr dictates who you might hook up with. It’s a scenario wide open for depicting 21 st century zeitgeist and diversity, but instead we find the women dressed in pinnies doing the cleaning while the men don DIY belts; everyone gets together with members of the opposite sex – except one dancer who leaves her man for a woman, but abandons her new-born twins in the process.
Add in a couple of ‘sex mad’ women whose behaviour, were the genders reversed, would be roundly condemned, and Tango Moderno doesn’t feel very ‘modern’ at all.