STAG Theatre Company theSpace @ Niddry Street
Chatting to a couple of Dutch guys in the queue to get in, they seemed to think the show was about the Brexit referendum. No, I told them, it’s about another referendum, the referendum on Scottish Independence. “Ah Scoxit!” they exclaimed, “it’s the same thing, no?” Well, not quite but there are certainly a lot of similarities – the prospect of seismic economic and constitutional change, and a nation irrevocably divided. Writer/Director Maddy Beautyman and Glasgow University Theatre Group, STAG, tackle this potentially divisive topic in a hilarious and scrupulously unbiased way – in this play, both sides are slightly unhinged in their slavish devotion to their side of the argument.
Ah Dinnae Ken cleverly mirrors Shakespeare’s (and Baz Luhrman’s) story of the star crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet whose love transcends the irrational hate between their two families. In this version, the play is set in Glasgow not fair Verona, the two lovers are Julie and Hugo and the warring neighbours are her Yes and his No voting families. A second independence referendum has just been announced and Julie’s parents and psychopath brother are contemplating drastic measures to ensure their side wins the day this time round. Hugo’s family have a less drastic but equally bonkers plan to sway voters with decorated shortbread. The same four actors play both families which requires some quick changes in costume and persona and the scene is set for some fast paced farce and mayhem. The prologue/chorus is provided by two TV commentators, Jackie and Bird, whose veneer of neutrality quickly peels away and their polarised opinions are revealed. No-one it seems can be truly neutral in this debate, which divides families, friends and trust in our media. “There never was a tale of more woe than that of the vote between yes and no.”
The cast are young, enthusiastic and talented and I’m sure as the run progresses they will get even slicker in their performances. The packed house were treated to a fun packed hour which maybe also gave cause for a bit of reflection on what might be yet to come.