You don’t mess with Glaswegian women. You don’t mess with Russian operatives either. Combine the two and you have Svetlana, a gallus Glasgow girl, by way of Moscow, who’s liable to take you out with an AK-47 if you step out of line.
We first meet Svetlana in her Glasgow flat where she’s kicking back in an easy chair with a voddy. The phone rings. It’s a Sloaney type from UK Government HQ (somehow she works for them, as well as Vlad Putin, as well as Trump). She’s needed on a mission. Oh really? Well, in that case, she wants a car to RAF Lossiemouth, she wants a refund for the Blahnik’s she ruined on her last mission, she wants a new dress. Svetlana don’t go nowhere unless it’s on her terms.
So begins a preposterous whirlwind comedy thriller in which our heroine escapes from ISIS, defeats Kim Jong-Un (in space, with the help of a talking monkey), seduces Putin, and still makes it home for tea.
Nicola Jo Cully’s performance is a blaze of brilliance, ripping through the rich Scots language of Paul Matthews’ script, barely pausing for breath and turning Svetlana into a salt-of-the-earth superhero for our times, a terrifying hard case that it’s easy to love. Comic props add another dimension to the storytelling, giving visual as well as verbal colour. Director Laila Noble has the whole thing well-drilled.
The kooky premise and literally out of this world storyline might limit its appeal; we’re talking cult comedy, not mass market. It will also baffle those who need the subtitles for Rab C Nesbitt; although for anyone who loves the coarse beauty of a well-timed Scots put-down it’s uproarious.
Whatever your view on the fantastical set-up, though, there’s no mistaking the technicolour writing or Cully’s command of it. It’s easy to imagine this manic Muscovite returning for a sequel or two, such is the idiosyncratic strength of the character. This is riotous fun.