‘The Devil Masters’ (Traverse: 10 – 24 December’14)

Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

“Chains, mordant humour and lashings of sharp comment”

Editorial Rating: 3 Stars Nae Bad

Admire the set. Designed by Anthony Lamble and lit by Colin Grenfell. Very tasteful, very Royal Circus; to begin with, at least, and then it looks unhinged.

It is Christmas Eve and Cameron and Lara Leishman are ‘At Home’ for drinkies, the remains of a chinese carry-out and lots of presents, just the two of them and their Skye terrier, Maximilian, and that’s how they like it. That these two advocates are self-satisfied is to put it mildly, but then their swish garden flat is in the New Town and no doubt they have worked so very hard to afford it. You might have called round earlier, expressing mild surprise that Cameron isn’t a QC yet and thought it all a touch chichi, maybe, but it is still absolutely fabulous … “and do have a lovely time this evening, just the two of you”.

Except that they don’t, not at all.

‘Season’s Greetings’ are a joke when it comes to what happens to the Leishman’s. For a start, Max’ gets dognapped and second there’s that pun in their name. Iain Finlay Macleod gives us pedigree ‘Christmas Carol’, the writer’s mega cut. No redemption is offered but this story has chains, mordant humour and lashings of sharp comment .

The first gift is unwrapped and admired and Cameron and Lara receive an unexpected and unwelcome visitor. John watches ‘The Wire’, so he says he’s from ‘the projects’. For Lara he’s a schemie, feral, the low life of the Sheriff’s Courts. He needs house training. Cameron, well bred, is a little more accommodating. He realises that for John to have had to leave Fettes junior school after only a couple of years was not one of life’s lucky breaks (!). John (Keith Fleming) has nerve, wit and honesty but gets it in the neck. He’s walking wounded in a nasty class war that Lara (Barbara Rafferty) prosecutes with all her vicious might. Cameron (Johnny Bett) would intercede but plays junior counsel to his partner’s vengeful brief. Director Orla O’Loughlin brings on action that is outrageous, radge and lurid.

Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

It is close to home. Some will wince in recognition at lookalike ANTA interiors. There’s Albinoni on the invisible Sonos wireless system. Cameron knocks plebian Glasgow. Edinburgh lawyers acquire frightfully mannered English accents. There’s the EH3 postcode, Georgian cornicing, John’s pals from Pilton with their howling dogs, fireworks at New Year, and a legal profession prejudicially bent on fee income. But there’s more to it. David Hume’s statue is arraigned, or more accurately his toe is. What would the great philosopher make of the Leishman’s behaviour? For sure, they only actually do anything – as opposed to decorating their tree with photographs of past pooches – when they’re frightened or threatened. At best this is difficult to live with; at worst, it’s deranged.

I’ll stay with Christmas rather than moral philosophy. Go to ‘The Devil Masters’ with this text in mind: ‘He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (John 1:11) ’. Dispute ownership.


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

Reviewer: Alan Brown  (Seen 10 December)

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