Review – The Authorised Kate Bane

Oct 21 2012 | By More

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Sean Scanlon and Jenny Hulse in The Authorised Kate Bane, from Grid Iron. Photo Eoin Carey

Sean Scanlon and Jenny Hulse in The Authorised Kate Bane, from Grid Iron. Photo Eoin Carey

Traverse Theatre
Guest Review by Irene Brown

Grid Iron’s latest production, The Authorised Kate Bane by Ella Hickson, marks a departure from their trademark style of site-specific theatre.

However, innovation in set design from Becky Minto is well to the fore. Her clever and effective high wall of cardboard boxes holds the props for the improvised set changes carried out by the cast – under the admirable direction of Ben Harrison on the small stage of Traverse 2.

On a snowy night, Kate Bane (Jenny Hulse) visits her Dad (Sean Scanlon) to introduce her boyfriend Albin (Nicky Elliott). Being back in the family home, along with the unexpected arrival of her Mother (Anne Kidd), triggers memories and makes Kate regress as she seeks to find her childhood in the reality of an adult world.

This is a play within a play in as much as the drama that initially unfolds is what is going on in the imagination of playwright Kate Bane as she uses the writer’s trick of taking what she knows then shifting and transposing it enough to be able to say it’s not actually the truth.

But the truth and how to portray it is the very doubtful issue that Ella Hickson is examining in this piece.In her writer’s note in the programme, she speaks of her ‘…preoccupation …with authenticity in theatre as concerns form and performance” and her discussion with a neuroscientist who was working on the unreliability of memory.

While this is a fascinating concept it is not one that is revolutionary. No writer can show everything and nor should they try, and false or imagined memory is a familiar concept. These imagined imaginings in this search for an authorised version of Kate Bane resulted in much angst ridden regression, navel gazing and crossed wires in the exposure of what came across as heid bustin, unpleasant and unresolvable relationships. An old hippie and a wannabe member of the bourgeoisie would seem to be a recipe for disaster from the get go.

Exploring the difference between love and need; the perils of absolute honesty; the real dilemma of the adult feeling ‘homesick at home’ in their parental home where they are no longer the child; a shift in class and the ensuing hypocrisy of that are all important issues. However the drinking of real wine and real coffee, and the eating of real (or are they?) Parmesan Puffs seems unnecessary and distracting as a means of authenticating life on stage in what is an over–long piece. Albeit one which is held together with solid performances from the four-strong cast.

Run ends Fri 26 October
Running time: 1hr 45 mins
Age guidance: 14+
Traverse Website:


Glasgow, Tron Theattre: Oct 30 – Nov 3. Tickets:


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Comments (1)

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  1. Grid Iron says:

    Hi Irene,

    Thank you for coming to the show. I just wanted to let folks know that everything the performers drink on stage is fake – the Moët is fizzy pink Muscat grape juice from Asda (with scanned labels put on), the red wine is red grape and pomegranate juice from M&S and the coffee and whiskey are made from burnt sugar.

    The Parmesan puffs, though, are indeed real! Made by our producer for the first couple of performances but since then by the lovely chef in the Trav.

    It’s a fantastic testament to the skills of our stage management, though, that it all looks so real!