‘Flying with Swans’ (Traverse: 4 – 8 November ’14)

Photo: Leslie Black

Photo: Leslie Black

“Well-met, if slightly over the guard rail”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars

Last in the autumn season of A Play, A Pie and a Pint.

Three elderly women embark upon on a “Great Day Out” to Arran, and indeed it kind of turns out that way. The weather is mild, the ice cream is good, and they stay on deck for the entire crossing. Brodick is dead ahead, but this is forty-five minutes of diverting, mischievous dialogue from Glasgow writer Jack Dickson. Its most acute moments are pin-sharp sad, but the piece is funny and kind-hearted too. Sage, no’ Saga.

As over seventy fives, Dolly, Jean, and Mona go back years, and there is some fond reminiscing, which is where the whooper swans fly in. However, the old girls talk as much of the present as of the past. For a start, there’s Mona’s ‘borrowed’ and bashed car that retired and repressed solicitor-advocate Dolly feels obliged to report to the police. Meanwhile, Jean is escaping an anxious daughter who is taking her duty of care to neurotic heights.

The play is, naturally, a tale of age and loss but not in any mawkish fashion. No one’s sick on this CalMac service. However, the passage of time has probably hurt Dolly (Anne Kidd) the most. Her schnauzers are gone, and she may appear trim and resolute and but her friends know the truth, and offer her the love and support that she needs – and finally accepts. For carefree, absconding Mona (Karen Ramsay), it’s different, which you can see from her nightie and Nessie hoodie! Vague, intuitive Jean (Kay Gallie), with her bag full of blue and red pills, probably has the most telling line. “I miss me,” she says.

The casting is excellent and the three performances are well-met, if slightly over the guard rail, for Dickson is writing incautiously and with affection. His programme credit reads that Flying with Swans is offered as ‘a tribute to the women who feature in all our lives’. I’m on board with him.

Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)

Reviewer: Alan Brown (Seen 4 November)

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