Yer Granny

June 3, 2015 | By | Reply More

✭✭✭✩✩    Saucy

King’s Theatre: Tues 2 – Sat 6 June 2015

Hugely – if inconsistently – funny, but lacking real dramatic impact, Yer Granny at the King’s is certainly crowd-pleasing but does not seem destined to linger long in the memory.

Douglas Maxwell has taken Roberto Cossa’s Argentinian comedy La Nona and transported it to 1970s Scotland for the National Theatre of Scotland’s touring production. A family of Italian descent are suffering financial hardship, due largely to the Granny of the title, a monstrous 100-year-old who is literally eating them out of house and home.

Yer Granny - Gregor Fisher. Photo Manuel Harlan

Yer Granny – Gregor Fisher. Photo Manuel Harlan

Gregor Fisher’s Granny has very little in the way of dialogue, and comes across as a figure more symbolic than realistic. Exactly what she symbolises is another matter. At first there seems to be some half-formed criticism of consumerism and capital, but this soon peters out; at the climax, there is a half-hearted attempt at linking the figure with the Queen’s Jubilee.

This climax is when Fisher is truly grotesque and has the most impact, making it unfortunate that he seems comparatively underused earlier on. Throughout, there is the nagging feeling that the play – originally staged under a military dictatorship – has some kind of satirical intent that has been lost in translation. As it is, this version owes far more to Mrs Brown’s Boys than Dario Fo.

There are certainly some committed comic performances by the all-star cast. Jonathan Watson’s chip shop owner Cammy switches from hangdog gloom to crazed riffing on his imagined relationship with the Queen, while Louise McCarthy extracts maximum comic value from what could be a disappointingly superficial role as his daughter Marissa.

a stream of gags

The trouble is that these are sitcom figures – but successful sitcoms have jokes that arise out of the characters, who have become familiar to the audience over time. Here, they add up to little more than a stream of gags – many of which, admittedly, are very funny. Similarly, Paul Riley seems to be re-running Still Game’s Winston rather than fully inhabiting Cammy’s feckless loser brother Charlie. When the more dramatic second half unfolds, it is difficult to truly care about their fates.

Yer Granny - Maureen Beattie (L), Barbara Rafferty (C) & Gregor Fisher (R). Photo Manuel Harlan

Yer Granny – Maureen Beattie (L), Barbara Rafferty (C) & Gregor Fisher (R). Photo Manuel Harlan

The same applies to Brian Pettifer, as Cammy’s rival in chips Donnie Francisco – but mainly because Pettifer succeeds, thanks to some particularly foul dialogue and bravura falling over, in making him so disgusting to begin with.

Other cast members turn in more rounded performances. Barbara Rafferty manages the transition from frustrated Aunt Angela to accidental speed-freak and unlikely drug kingpin with humour and pathos, while Maureen Beattie, as Cammy’s wife Marie, is able to time gags to perfection with a stone-faced demeanour.

The mixed dramatic success would easily be forgotten if the play had the energy and verve of a farce. Despite Graham McLaren’s spirited direction, this is not always present. Instead, the production seems to be grasping after some kind of tragic resonance that, like the unfocused social comment, is always out of reach. The 1970s setting, while affording plenty of humour, is not always thought through.

A string of jokes, many of them reassuringly filthy – and thankfully avoiding many of the easy clichés of Scottish comedy – compensate for most of the dramatic shortcomings. However, the comedy is unevenly applied, and there are moments that jar with the drama.

That title, with its reminder of Ade Edmondson and Rik Mayall’s forbidden original name for their TV show – Your Bottom – affords such comic potential around variations on ‘I saw Yer Granny last night’ that any show would struggle to live up to it. Despite not hanging together too well, it certainly provides a large amount of fun. Yet the overall feeling must be that it could have hit much harder.

Running time 2 hours 20 mins including interval
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ
Tuesday 2 – Saturday 6 June 2015
Evenings 7.30 pm, Matinees Wed and Sat at 2.30 pm
Tickets and information from http://www.edtheatres.com/yergranny
NTS website http://www.nationaltheatrescotland.com/content/default.asp?page=home_YerGranny


Buy the script from Amazon for kindle or paperback

Yer Granny on tour:
Tue 2 – Sat 6 June Edinburgh
King’s Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
Tue 9 – Sat 13 June Inverness
Eden Court
01463 234 234 Book online
Tue 23 – Sat 27 June Belfast
Lyric Theatre
028 9038 1081 Book online
Tue 30 June – Sat 4 July Dundee
Dundee Rep
01382 223530 Book online
Yer Granny - Louise McCarthy (L), Barbara Rafferty (C) & Gregor Fisher (R). Photo Manuel Harlan

Yer Granny – Louise McCarthy (L), Barbara Rafferty (C) & Gregor Fisher (R). Photo Manuel Harlan

ENDS

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