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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me @markffisher and @writeabouttheat I am an Edinburgh-based freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian, Scotland on Sunday and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success, published in February 2012 and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers published in July 2015. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide. See my website for more information and comprehensive Scottish theatre links.
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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The New Maw Broon Monologues, theatre reivew

Published in the Scotsman
Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Three stars
SINCE 1936, Maw Broon has suffered the indignity of being two dimensional. As the stock mother in a comic strip, she is a figure without depth or hinterland. In this, as poet Jackie Kay sees it, she has something in common with a generation of women whom emancipation passed by and with the nation itself, torn between couthiness and modernity, dependence and freedom.

In a show first seen in 2009, now revamped to embrace the referendum debate, Kay presents Broon as a woman bereft of an identity, struggling to escape the confines of her picture frame by means of reality TV or a crash course in sex, politics and body-image debates. Played by Terry Neason, she is all stiff limbs and jings-crivvens catchphrases, until Suzanne Bonnar shows up as her consciousness-raising doppelgänger.

It’s a promising premise and, with songs by Alan Penman and Tom Urie (the highlight being the soft jazz dreaminess of Maw Broon Looks at the Moon), it makes for popular political cabaret. In its vision of a woman waking up to her own oppression it recalls Isn’t It Wonderful To Be A Woman in The Steamie.

Throw in the national dimension and it could have been incendiary, but the show is jovial more than funny, topical more than polemical, so Liz Carruthers’s Glasgay production is a gentle diversion, not a radical call to arms.
© Mark Fisher 2013
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