Theatre review: The New Maw Broon Monologue, Glasgow

Kay presents Broon as a woman bereft of an identity
Kay presents Broon as a woman bereft of an identity
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Since 1936, Maw Broon has suffered the indignity of being two dimensional. As the stock mother in a comic strip, she is a figure without depth or hinterland.

The New Maw Broon Monologues - Tron, Glasgow

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In this, as poet Jackie Kay sees it, she has something in common with a generation of women whom emancipation passed by and with the nation itself, torn between couthiness and modernity, dependence and freedom.

In a show first seen in 2009, now revamped to embrace the referendum debate, Kay presents Broon as a woman bereft of an identity, struggling to escape the confines of her picture frame by means of reality TV or a crash course in sex, politics and body-image debates. Played by Terry Neason, she is all stiff limbs and jings-crivvens catchphrases, until Suzanne Bonnar shows up as her consciousness-raising doppelgänger.

It’s a promising premise and, with songs by Alan Penman and Tom Urie (the highlight being the soft jazz dreaminess of Maw Broon Looks at the Moon), it makes for popular political cabaret. In its vision of a woman waking up to her own oppression it recalls Isn’t It Wonderful To Be A Woman in The Steamie. Throw in the national dimension and it could have been incendiary, but the show is jovial more than funny, topical more than polemical, so Liz Carruthers’s Glasgay production is a gentle diversion, not a radical call to arms.