EDINBURGH | GLASGOW | ABERDEEN | INVERNESS | DUNDEE | PERTH

Mischief

at Traverse Theatre

* * * - -

Elspeth Turner excels in this take on fierce motherly love and survival

Image of Mischief

This week’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint transports us to a simpler time, at least in terms of the practicalities of daily life. Set on Eilean nam Ban in the Sound of Iona, the production’s sound and visuals well evoke the cultural and geographical landscape. Along with the script, they engender a real sense of isolation contrasted by the fierce closeness of a mother (Ronnat) and daughter (Brigid), two of the three central characters.  The pair’s daily chores of churning butter and tending livestock are one day interrupted by an unknown male washing up on the beach. He soon becomes significant in the lives of Ronnat and Brigid, in ways that bring both tumult and complication to the at times fiery relationship between the women.

The three actors all bring in strong performances (as to be expected from the Traverse), but Elspeth Turner steals the show with her striking and riveting interpretation of Ronnat. She and Alison McFarlane harmonise beautifully, adding to the ambience with their skilled and haunting use of Gaelic song. Gerda Stevenson directs this with elan: the staging is slick, simple and imaginative. The costumes also blend well assisting with the suspension of disbelief, with exception of a few details, such as the use of modern elastic hairbands – which could easily be covered over with pieces of rag and the incongruously neat hair cut of David Rankine, who plays an otherwise very believable Fari.

The piece offers a good deal of wit, although possibly some of the overt sexuality may be a little risqué for weekday lunchtime audiences. There are times where the pace is lost slightly as focus goes to details that are neither necessary for the furtherance of the plot, nor especially entertaining in themselves. But in the main, this is well written, unusual and offers an interesting exploration of matriarchy, oppression and sexual entanglement.