Review: Scenes Unseen, Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Scenes Unseen, Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Review by Mark Brown.

Scenes Unseen, an eclectic mix of hitherto unperformed theatrical vignettes by famous dramatists from around the world and emergent Scottish writers, is, as one might expect, a wildly varied rollercoaster ride.

One expects most, of course, from the playlets by Athol Fugard, Alan Ayckbourn, JP Donleavy and Patrick Marber. However, Ayckbourn’s Ron and Julie (a vapid sketch about a love triangle between a theatre’s lighting, sound and special effects staff) bears out one’s suspicions regarding the work’s “previously unseen” status.

Fugard’s modest family drama, A Conversation, does, at least, carry the stamp of his theatrical poetics. The same is true of Donleavy’s The Interview, a genuinely hilarious, quasi-surreal send-up of a job interview in a Manhattan skyscraper.

The humour is at its most raucous in the show’s final, very brief, mini-play. Marber’s Casting is a high-octane parody of a casting meeting at a major London film company in which political correctness goes hilariously out of the window.

To put the work of little known, emerging Scottish playwrights up against little dramas by such famous authors seems foolhardy, bordering on cruel. However, Lynsey Murdoch’s Nimrod, in which we encounter two very different male scientists as they contemplate the Antarctic aurora, does not look out of place in its combination of big ideas with a comedy of personal conflict.

Julie Tsang’s monologue for an abused young woman who terminates her pregnancy has more authenticity than dramatic power; but it is far superior to her speech for the young woman’s abusive former partner, which sinks beneath the weight of its own pathos. Tsang’s writing shows more promise, however, than Andrew Stott’s, whose Lighten Up is a triumph of triviality over comedy.

The most adventurous of the pieces by emerging writers is Stef Smith’s Sand into Glass. It begins as a thoughtful, interestingly structured trio of criss-crossing monologues, but (surprisingly, given that Smith was the writer on the award-winning Scottish play Roadkill) it degenerates into platitude.

Director Andy Arnold’s production deserves better than designer Kirsty McCabe’s set (an ineffective, multi-purpose clutter) and a hugely variable cast, ranging from Keith Fleming, on superb comic form, to an under-rehearsed Brian Pettifer (often with script in hand).

Until March 16. Tickets: 0141 552 4267; tron.co.uk

This review was originally published on the website of the Daily Telegraph on March 14, 2013

© Mark Brown

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