Alter Ego

Apr 20 2023 | By More

★★★☆☆    Humorous

Saughtonhall United Reformed Church: Wed 19 – Sat 22 Apr 2023
Review by Hugh Simpson

Alter Ego by Tom Casling, from Saughtonhall Drama Group at Saughtonhall United Reformed Church, is a comedy with poignant moments, performed with diligence and wit.

Richard Simpson is entering his fifties with worries both professional and personal. His mood is not lightened when preparations for a job interview are interrupted by the news that he apparently died in a hit-and-run incident three days previously.

Eleanor Watson and Scott Kerr. Pic Sarah Howley

What follows is a clever mix of comic and more serious matters, that admittedly is not quite sustained over the length of the play. In particular there are elements that resemble a more straightforward thriller; this seems extremely promising, but is then dealt with somewhat brusquely in a second half that makes the work thoroughly lopsided. For such a recent work, there is also something decidedly dated about much of it.

The attraction of the play to grassroots companies is, however, clear to see. Aside from the two central participants (Richard and his wife Lynn), it has a series of smaller roles, some of which are not gender-specific, and all of whom rather cleverly turn up in both halves of the play.

wounded exasperation

There is also a good deal of genuine humour, which (alongside the more domestic elements) is displayed elegantly, and with considerable charm and credibility, by Scott Kerr and Eleanor Watson as couple Richard and Lynn. Kerr’s wounded exasperation is touching, while Watson’s combination of frustration and loyalty is beautifully balanced.

They are ably supported by John Webster and Alan Moonie in an effective double act as a couple of deadpan coppers, and by Judith Petrie and Murray Petrie as a pair of hangdog, gently absurd funeral directors.

Judith Petrie, Gill Calvey and Eleanor Watson. Pic Sarah Howley

Gill Calvey is suitably larger-than-life as Lynn’s mother Gladys, while Jack Simpson has a believability as Richard’s Jack-the-lad friend Steven.

Director Morag Simpson achieves a coherent ensemble feel, with a plausibility to even the more ludicrous exchanges. The cast also achieves a commendable rhythm, which (allied to some wonderfully timed one-liners) brings out the best in the comedy.

The structure of the piece does make it difficult to keep the momentum going on occasions. This was not helped on this occasion by some understandable first night glitches – the odd fluff, some recalcitrant scene changes – that will be eliminated during the run.

convincing and appealing

However, there is already a flow to the production that makes it convincing and appealing. This is helped by Keith Wilson’s sets – particularly a solid living room – and the technical operation of Keith and Liz Wilson.

There is also that welcoming Saughtonhall atmosphere, complete with half-time tea, that makes attendance a genuine pleasure.

Running time: Two hours and 5 minutes (including one interval)
Saughtonhall United Reformed Church, 85-87 Saughtonhall Drive, EH12 5TR
Wednesday 19 – Saturday 22 April 2023
Wed, – Fri at 7.30 pm; Sat at 2.30 pm
Tickets and details: Book here.

Facebook: @Saughtonhall Drama Group/

John Webster, Alan Moonie, Scott Kerr and Eleanor Watson. Pic Sarah Howley


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