Seen at King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
Touring until July 4
Reviewed by Mark Brown
The Scottish stage comedy is currently enjoying a rich vein of form. Hot on the heels of Still Game Live, Kill Johnny Glendenning and The Venetian Twins comes Yer Granny, an absolute comic triumph from the National Theatre of Scotland.
Adapted by Douglas Maxwell from La Nona, by leading Argentinian playwright Roberto Cossa, and set in 1977, the play takes us to the flat above the chip shop of Scots-Italian family the Russos. Things aren’t going well for the clan. Their shop, the Minerva Fish Bar, has been closed for two months and the cupboards are dangerously bare.
The cause of this catastrophe is none other than the titluar grandmother, a 100-year-old parasite, played with fabulous repulsiveness by Rab C Nesbitt star Gregor Fisher. Having polished off the stock of the Minerva, granny’s insatiable appetite has brought her once proud family to the brink of starvation.
Cossa’s conceit is a brilliantly simple one, and Maxwell and director Graham McLaren have made a fabulous job of translating it into a bold, brash, yet clever Scottish comedy. As the family’s thoughts about what to do about granny turn ever bleaker, play and universally excellent ensemble work in increasingly outrageous harmony.
The despairing and unlikely drug dealer Aunt Angela (Barbara Rafferty on explosive form) is a delight. So too is the family’s disgustingly depraved business rival Donnie Francisco (Brian Pettifer, the stomach-turning epitome of comic vulgarity).
Most demonic of all, however, is Fisher’s horrible granny, an unforgettably grotesque character who dominates Colin Richmond’s wonderfully observed seventies set like King Kong in a pinafore. Pushing her family’s humanity to the very limits, she makes Rab C look like a paragon of decency and good manners as she torments us with her blood-curdling cries of “whit’s that ye’ve got?”
For tour details, visit: http://www.nationaltheatrescotland.com
This review was originally published in the Sunday Herald on June 7, 2015
© Mark Brown