ON THE first night of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival, Robin Grainger delivered an early version of his debut hour, successive tales of woe that he’s still wrangling into a coherent structure.
Robin Grainger: A Year and a Day | Rating: *** | Yesbar, Glasgow
By any standards, he’s had a tough 12 months of loss and heartbreak but seems determined to exorcise the pain on stage. He opens with anecdotes from a trip to South Africa, a terrifying place from which he mines a mix of solid and so-so observations.
The strongest material emerges from the concrete detail of his experience, rather than when he proffers vague generalisations about the danger and broad cultural comparisons to UK and US airlines. Ostensibly the account of a touring comic, the underlying reason for the trip is belatedly revealed. However, Grainger could seed this more artfully to make the shift into an account of his greatest misfortune less abrupt.
At its core, A Year and a Day has a promising kernel of relative grief between himself and an insensitive friend. Too often though, he struggles to sustain this analytical distance, with a characterisation of his useless counsellor a straightforward savaging. Similarly, his ex-girlfriend is unconvincingly portrayed as an overbearing harridan. She may well have been.
But Grainger’s account of their ailing relationship lacks the credibility of his candour elsewhere, with the bitterness and resentment rarely sparking his wit.
There’s a reasonable show developing here but much of the anguish is obviously still being processed.