Theatre reviews: Break My Windows | The Osmonds: A New Musical
In Dave Gerow’s whip-smart new play Break My Windows, two young lovers on the brink of a life together suddenly discover that, when it comes to morals and values, they have nothing in common at all, writes Joyce McMillan
Break My Windows, Oran Mor, Glasgow ****
The Osmonds: A New Musical, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh ****
Ah, capitalism. As many have noted down the ages, its main priority is the generation of more capital, while it tends to treat human wellbeing as a by-product; and unless you believe money is the root of all happiness, it can end up getting on your nerves.
This is the situation in which we find our hero Brandon, in Dave Gerow’s whip-smart new Play, Pie And Pint drama Break My Windows, as he confronts his money-obsessed businessman Dad Eric, who has given him a proper job as “recruitment manager” in the family business, along with a smart car and flat.
This is no traditional business, though, but a Leith-based start-up that aims to combine the appeal of Amazon, Uber and Deliveroo in a single brand called Bring Me Wheels; and the drama rapidly reaches crisis-point on the morning when Brandon and Eric are supposed to be setting off to sweet-talk a potential wealthy investor in Fort William, and Brandon decides it’s the ideal moment to introduce Eric to his new boyfriend Sam, a cash-strapped Bring Me Wheels driver angling for a job as assistant manager.
Gerow’s plot undergoes some spectacular twists, though, as Brandon begins to sense that his Dad is not the only money-grubbing capitalist in the room; and the whole fast-moving drama – with pleasing absurdist touches – is brilliantly delivered, not only by the dream team of director Ken Alexander and actor Tom McGovern (who, in Peter Arnott’s The Signalman, brought us the most acclaimed Play, Pie and Pint show of all) but also by Ross Baxter and Jamie McKillop as young lovers on the brink of a life together, who suddenly discover that when it comes to morals and values, they have nothing in common at all.
It was capitalism, of a sort, that also robbed the Osmonds of their immense family fortune, after a staggeringly successful career in which they claim to have sold over 100 million records, most of them in the late 1960s and early 70s, when the Osmonds were aged between about five and 25.
In 1980, though, the Osmonds found themselves broke, when the failure of their big studio venture near the family home in Utah coincided with the cancellation of the Donny and Marie television show; and it was then that they fell back on their parents’ strict Mormon beliefs – faith, family, career, in that order – to work their way back to solvency.
This is the dramatic story told by Jay Osmond in The Osmonds – A New Musical, playing in Edinburgh this week; and although it’s a fiercely sentimental American rags-to-riches tale twice over, with a dollop of faith as surreal as anything in The Book Of Mormon, now at the Playhouse, it’s delivered in exhilarating style in a terrific production by co-writer Shaun Kerrison, which also features thrilling choreography by Bill Deamer, and fine musical performances all round, not least from Ryan Anderson as vocalist Merrill, Alex Lodge as narrator Jay, and Joseph Peacock as Donny, wowing the audience with a poptastic performance of Puppy Love. After the show, I spotted the brilliant wee lads who play the Osmonds as child stars being ushered to their bus by a chaperone; and it came as a powerful reminder of just what little kids the Osmonds were when stardom struck, and how hard they had to work to ensure that it finally wasn’t too much, too young, after all.
Break My Windows is at Oran Mor, Glasgow until 24 September, and the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, from 27 September-1 October. The Osmonds is at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, until 24 September, and at His Majesty’s, Aberdeen, from 1-5 November.