If there’s one play which has been revamped, rejigged and reimagined to death, it’s Shakespeare’s classic tragedy about a couple of star-crossed lovers. Student Theatre at Glasgow (STAG) try to bring a fresh sheen to the premise by loosely interposing its plot over a second Independence referendum, set at an unspecified date in the not-too-distant future.
With four student actors playing the members of two different families, and two more providing back-up as commentators on the theme, Ah Dinnae Ken is a silly, far-fetched and tongue-in-cheek attempt to mash together the bard and one of the most burning political topics of the day. But any attempt to analyse the play as a serious contemplation of the issue would be futile, since the production is far more concerned with poking fun than probing for insight.
Despite some brief forays into the idea that another referendum would kill the country from the inside out and a surface-level exploration of media bias, for the most part the play relies on ludicrous plot developments, more than one Scottish stereotype and a hefty dose of swearing to try and get the audience onside, with Ryan Rutherford’s comedic timing and turn of phrase a particular delight.
On the whole, though, the acting spends a little too much time in top gear and the cast would do well to take their foot off the throttle now and again. The fact that the four main contributors all play two sets of family members wouldn’t be problematic if they weren’t all so reminiscent of each other; Sam Fraser is especially guilty of replicating his mannerisms and shoutiness for two ostensibly polar characters. The effect is not confusing so much as unconvincing.
As a result, the acting (and the plot, for that matter) comes off as a little rushed, a little immature and a little half-baked. For a student comedy, they’re not the most serious of problems, but a tightening up tonally and structurally would do wonders for this fledgling outfit. With that in mind, and taking into account the odd occasions where the script is imbued with wit and perceptiveness, there’s surely far more to come from STAG in the future.