Published in the Guardian
|Kathryn Howden in The Guid Sisters|
The play, premiered in 1968, was revolutionary in its use of joual, the Quebec working-class dialect that's been turned into pungent Glaswegian by Martin Bowman and Bill Findlay. Even if the use of joual isn't so controversial now, the play retains its political clout. On the one hand, the women are restrained by their Catholic faith; on the other, they are teased by capitalism's get-rich-quick promises. To compensate for the drudgery and repression, they have the dream of a win on the bingo.
Throwing in images of the last supper and a crucified Christ in a superb production for the Lyceum and the National Theatre of Scotland, director Serge Denoncourt grasps not only the play's social context, but also Tremblay's instinct for theatrical poetry. Whether performing a choral rap on the subject of housework, or taking the spotlight for a heartbreaking interior monologue, the women step beyond domestic realism into a more complex dimension.
Leading an exemplary ensemble, Kath Howden plays Germaine like a queen bee, too delighted with herself to see the envy she is arousing, too immersed in her own small victory to see herself as what she is: a victim of a system that cultivates impossible dreams. A closing round of A Man's a Man for a' That, by Burns, reminds us of the hollowness of the consumerist promise.
© Mark Fisher, 2012 (photo: Richard Campbell)
More coverage at theatreSCOTLAND.com
Sign up for theatreSCOTLAND updates
Sign up for theatreSCOTLAND discussion