The Gingerbread Lady

August 24, 2016 | By | Reply More

★★★☆☆    Emotional

The Royal Scots Club (Venue 241) 22-27 Aug 2016
Review by Hugh Simpson

Convincing portrayals and realistic emotions are a feature of the Makars’ production of Neil Simon’s The Gingerbread Lady at the Royal Scots Club.

Neil Simon’s 1970 play is far removed from the comedies that made his name, being a dark and disturbing tale of addiction, dependence and regret.

Georgia Smith and Therese Gallagher. Photo Martin Burnell

Georgia Smith and Therese Gallagher. Photo Martin Burnell

Fading nightclub chanteuse Evy emerges from a spell in rehab, having to deal with insecure friends, an anxious daughter and an unreliable ex as well as her own demons.

It might best be described as a tragicomedy, but even that would be overstating things here, where the humour is mostly absent. Perhaps in order to retain the (thoroughly impressive) accents, the pace of many of the exchanges is too slow for the humour to come through.

An exception to this is Derek Mellon’s Jimmy, a frothily camp portrayal of an ageing, unsuccessful actor, who extracts the maximum humour from what could be a sadly outdated role. Otherwise, there is a distinct lack of pace, and the ending strikes a false note.

self-loathing and regret

To be fair, this is a fault of the play, and the dramatic elements are very well done. Therese Gallagher’s Evy holds everything together, convincing completely in her self-loathing and regret, as well as doing some highly creditable drunk acting. Her scenes with daughter Polly (Georgia Smith) are compelling, with some frighteningly realistic emotions.

Therese Gallagher, Derek Melon, Jan Renton and Georgia Smith. Photo: Martin Burnell

Therese Gallagher, Derek Melon, Jan Renton and Georgia Smith. Photo: Martin Burnell

Jan Renton, as the pathologically vain Toby, suffers more than most from the slow pace of some interactions, but has a sure handle on the character’s insecurities. Anton Hiett plays two roles, impressing in a cameo as a delivery driver but being less sure at suggesting Evy’s ex Lou is the charismatic and dangerous figure the play suggests.

Margaret Milne’s direction, while on the stately side, is admirably clear and the acting space in the Hepburn Suite is cleverly used. Despite lacking a certain sparkle, the whole production is lucid and straightforwardly realised.

Running time: 2 hours 35 minutes including one 15 interval and one short intermission
The Royal Scots Club (Venue 241), 29-31 Abercromby Place, EH3 6QE
Monday 22 – Saturday 27 August 2016
Daily at 7.45 pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/gingerbread-lady
Company website: http://www.edinburghmakars.com
Facebook: edinburghmakars

ENDS

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