Friday, May 21, 2010

Before I Go, theatre review

Published in The Scotsman

Before I Go **

CHARLES Baudelaire was a 19th-century wild child who believed art should be free of morality. His romantic spirit is in ironic counterpoint to that of Nolan in this lunchtime three-hander by Rab C Nesbitt's Ian Pattison.

Played by Ryan Fletcher,this young man is a dealer on the Cardonald crack circuit and his rebellious rejection of conventional ideas such as conscience and consideration for others is entirely self-serving. There is no poetry in his drug-pushing lifestyle.

It seems unlikely that Ellen, his mother, would approve even if it was poetic. Despite having a large portrait of Baudelaire on her living room wall and a rather unlikely habit of slipping into French from time to time, she is no hedonist and dearly wishes Nolan would change his ways before her newly diagnosed lung cancer takes its toll.

You'd think death, drug-dealing and decadence would make weighty themes but, despite the evidence, the stakes never feel very high in Before I Go. Ellen's ultimatum to Nolan to give up his gangster ways seems no more serious to us than it does to him.

The return of Jon Morrison's Ross, Nolan's absent father, has little effect on the emotional balance, despite him being a policeman well versed in his son's activities. And Ellen's grand Robin Hood gesture with Nolan's stolen cash comes too late to animate the story.

It makes Baudelaire look like an after-thought in an otherwise familiar death-bed study of minor regret and missed opportunity that is sensitively observed but uncompelling.

© Mark Fisher 2010

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