PPP: Love and Death in Govan and Hyndland

Oct 11 2017 | By More

★★★☆☆    Recognisable

Traverse Theatre: Tue 10 – Sat 14 Oct 2017
Review by Hugh Simpson

Excellent acting and directing distinguish Love and Death in Govan and Hyndland, the latest Play, Pie and a Pint offering at the Traverse. In the end, however, the play treads overly familiar ground.

Ian Pattison’s one-man show features Stephen Clyde as Ivan, a writer who has moved into what apparently must always be described as Glasgow’s ‘leafy West End’. Ten years on from the death of his mother from lung cancer, he reflects on their relationship and his situation.

Stephen Clyde. Pic Leslie Black

The archetypal Glasgow hard man has here become a more arty but still thoroughly buttoned-up writer who is ‘unable to commit’.

Two immediate problems surface. Hearts inevitably sink at the idea of another play about a playwright, while portrayals of supposedly unemotional Central Scotland males have a tendency to slide far too easily into treacly sentimentality.

Fortunately, a tight enough rein is kept on things. Stephen Clyde’s performance is subtle enough to convince, while he displays a humorous versatility, not least in the portrayal of Ivan’s mother.

Alison Peebles also provides exemplary direction. One person shows so often appear either static, or over-fussy as movement and props are deployed for no reason other than to give the performer something to do. Neither fault occurs here, with the staging being fluid and appearing thoroughly natural.

established cliches

That rather unwieldy title is significant. A familiarity with Glasgow is necessary to understand the distinction between the two areas; those who get it may be surprised that much of the play is set in Cardonald, which is not really Govan.

This is reflected in a play which has little new to say, instead relying on established cliches about Scotland and gender politics but is not clear on where to go with them. For example, the reference to ‘the Old Firm match between men and women’ is neither funny nor helpful.

The sterling efforts of Peebles and Clyde – particularly the way that the actor managed to finish the first performance so effectively after an unavoidable delay in proceedings – mean that this is an impressive production on several levels.

However, while there is plenty of humour and pathos, in the end there is a lack of the genuine emotional impact that would justify going over the familiar ground of blocked writers, or closed-off, self-justifying Scottish males with mammy issues.

Running time 50 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 10 – Saturday 14 October 2017
Daily at 1.00 pm, Fri also at 7.00 pm
Information and tickets: https://www.traverse.co.uk/whats-on/event-detail/1254/ppp-love-and-death-in-govan-and-hyndland.aspx


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