Review – Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us

Aug 9 2012 | By More

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Cari Silver as Mum and and Jacques Kerr as Dad in the Grads production of Paul Higgins' Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us. Fringe 2012. Photo credit: The Grads

Cari Silver as Mum and and Jacques Kerr as Dad in the Grads production of Paul Higgins’ Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us. Photo credit: The Grads

Royal Scots Club
Review by Thom Dibdin

Strong and pungent, the Grads have created a brutal, honest production of Paul Higgins’ debut play which first appeared in an NTS coproduction at the Traverse four years ago.

There is little which is forgiving about Higgins’ pitch-black script. The humour – and there is much humour – is dark and barbed. The sort of vicious comedy that isn’t made for anything as pleasant as laughter, but plays on the irony of those in desperate times.

The characters – a family trapped by their own decisions in contemporary Wishaw – are hard and acerbic. Director Claire Wood ensures that each is allowed to display their faults with an unflinching disregard for their self-esteem. A family who have, largely, abandoned their god but who are still paying penance. A family torn apart by a shared tragedy and yet forced to suffer together for their culpability in that very same event.

Jacques Kerr is in top form as Dad, a drunken armchair socialist given to loquacious torrents of poetry and abuse as he falls into befuddled sleep after his latest drinking session. If there is potentially more nuance to be found in the character, Kerr’s deadpan delivery is of a man who has long given up.

Cari Sliver’s Mum still goes through the motions of trying to keep the family together. Berating their children for their actions, but harbouring and nurturing a deeper hurt than any of them can ever conceive – the death of their youngest daughter at only 12.

“… a scene of almost unbearable intensity.”

If Kerr’s violence and disappointment are all internalised, eldest son Johnny lets his all hang out. Gavin Macgregor creates a 25 year-old who is a perpetually hormonal teenager, unable to accept any responsibility for his own actions as he lurches from one losing snooker game to the next.

Kirsty Nicolson could assert herself a bit more in the ensemble scenes as daughter Cath, whose stress-induced eczema is creating an ever-diminishing world in which she can exist. But alone on stage Nicolson has a real power – and when called upon to attempt to contact her dead sister Ruth, she creates a scene of almost unbearable intensity.

Returning into the orbit of these four, Patrick is a week early in coming home for the holidays from the seminary where he has been training for the priesthood. Although he has closed off his own escape route, or perhaps becauase of it. Gary Quinn’s Patrick provides a hopeful voice in the oppressive wall of negativity. Yet even this likeable young man can’t change the paths on which the family are set. Let alone his own.

The staging is done with simple clarity. Although the whole production certainly lacks for an interval – meaning it isn’t then able to make quite as much of the change of pace in the final act as it might.

Little has changed for better in the world since the original production and this is a very welcome revival. Particularly with such quality as this on stage. It has the guts to take its time, as it draws out the bitterness. Bleak stuff, but strongly framed.

Run ends Saturday 11 August.
Royal Scots Club, daily, 8.30pm (10pm)
Grads website:


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Comments (4)

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  1. Gordon Blackburn says:

    I also saw this Tom. It was marvellous pity they had such a small audience.


  2. Thom Dibdin says:

    Indeed! But I do hear that ticket sales have picked up for the final few nights of the run.

  3. Claire Wood says:

    Thanks, Gordon. Very kind of you to come along.

    And thanks, Thom, for such a lovely review!


  4. Claire Wood says:

    Hi Thom.

    I hope you’re really well and had a lovely Christmas.

    We’re taking Nobody Will Forgive Us to the Big Burns Supper over in Dumfries on 26 and 27 January. I appreciate you won’t be able to trek across and watch it. Though we’re performing it in a – as yet to be revealed – secret location which should be great fun. But if you wished to write a little piece about how excited we were about the forthcoming opportunity, that might be very nice.

    Thanking you very much.