Director: Graham McLaren
Writer: Roberto Cossa
Adapted by: Douglas Maxwell
Designer: Colin Richmond
Reviewer: Amy Taylor
It’s 1977 and above a failed fish and chip shop, a family disintegrates to the tune of The Bay CityRollers as their Granny eats and eats and eats. In fact, her voracious appetite formsthe basis of Douglas Maxwell’s adaptation of Roberto Cossa’s La Nona, directed by GrahamMcLaren.But while it stars such big names in Scottish comedy as Barbara Rafferty, Paul Riley,Jonathan Watson and Gregor Fisher as the eponymous and ravenous grandmother, this modernfarce is dogged by a lacklustre plot and unrealised promise.
In McClaren’s production the figurative wolf of poverty has kicked in the door and is living in the family home, working her way through the family’s kitchen, finances and sanity. But this figurative monster is not your average centenarian; she’s a grotesque one-hundred year old manifestation of excess; a parody of rampant consumerism. Fisher’s matriarch stalks the stage, hoovering up crisps, cake, rolls and the futures of all near her.
There are many great things about Yer Granny; the hugely talented cast, a script rich in hugely socio-political themes and the perfect timing of a post-election UK and yet, the play never quite reaches the heights that it seems to promise. The dialogue is witty, brash but at times the humour and the situations that the characters find themselves in feels slightly contrived, and it’s hard to shake off the feeling that something is missing; another scene with Fisher’s terrifying Granny, perhaps?
Indeed, while the play’s setting of 1970s Glasgow restricts the female characters, Maureen Beattie’s quick-witted Maria and Louise McCarthy’s turn as the dumb blonde daughter, Marissa, feel like nothing more than a second thought, leaving them to be almost criminally underused, never quite reaching their potential.
Yer Granny is a competent adaptation of the classic Argentine comedy, but garish 70s decor, clothing and the wails of The Bay City Rollers aside, the play’s weakness lies in its familiarity; the tired female stereotypes and the bizarre escapades of the family as they lumber towards the inevitable sticky end. There’s a certain predictability to Yer Granny, a sense that prevails and minimises the efforts of an exceptional comedic cast and award-winning creative team.
Runs until Sat 6 June then touring
Image credit: Manuel Harlan