When it comes to the cornerstones of Scottish cinema, Bruce Forsyth’s Gregory’s Girl is one that always springs to mind. It changed the industry in Scotland forever. Without Gregory’s Girl, there would be no Trainspotting. (Braveheart would probably still have been made, but about as much of that was filmed in Scotland as 2001: A Space Odyssey was filmed in space.) To take a property that means so much to the Scottish people and adapt it for the Edinburgh Fringe is a big task.
Unlike other adaptations at the Fringe, this show takes a much simpler route. Whereas shows like The Addams Family simply used the same characters and setting but created a whole new story, and Trainspotting Live used the same script and moved things around, this show changes almost nothing of its predecessor. Not that this is a detriment to the show.
This adaptation appropriately adapts the film to the stage and that is it. Very little of the film’s script is changed (don’t worry, the penguin makes an appearance). This could be seen as a lack of creativity, but it is in fact a huge amount of respect for the original that allows the audience to stay at ease. No fears of the famed production being ruined.
The direction of the show is terrific, managing to capture that same tone and style that Forsyth captured over thirty years ago. As for the acting everyone on stage is brilliant. The lead actor in the role of Gregory steals the show. Maybe he is not quite as charismatic as John Gordon Sinclair in the original performance, but even equalling that level of charisma would be near impossible. Those in the roles of Dorothy and Gregory’s little sister Madeline also put in good performances.
There are very few downsides to the show, but the most notable is the portrayal of Andy. Gone is the completely arrogant Scottish teen, blissfully unaware of the fact he is a total dork. His replacement? A buffoon-like character trapped within adolescence with no way out. It takes one of the best characters of the original and ruins them. Luckily, this decision has no huge effect on the show, but it is a mistake.
With these minor problems, this version doesn’t quite reach its own potential, although it is good enough to remain a great show, with enough wiggle room for improvement.