The Pitiless Storm

Chris Dolan

The Assembly Rooms

From 01 August 2014 to 24 August 2014

Rating: ****

Review by David Chadderton

Let's be clear from the start: this is a polemical, political piece designed to put across the case for Scottish independence—and a fine example of political theatre it is too.

It uses a tried and tested method of having a man gradually changing his opinion as he thinks through the issues, allowing the writer to also deal with any points that may be running through the heads of members of the audience.

But Chris Dolan's writing and David Hayman's wonderful performance as politician Bob Cunningham are both clear and convincing, rarely—if ever—feeling contrived just to get information across.

The scenario is that Cunningham is about to be awarded an OBE and is making a celebratory speech before his friends and colleagues before his trip to London on a lectern with "unity is strength" emblazoned across it. He nervously rehearses his speech on stage before his guests arrive, stopping every so often to think about what he is actually saying.

His thoughts are interrupted by his late father, a lifelong left-wing political activist, his estranged wife and also by his idealist 17-year-old self. He has to answer the doubts raised by the voices in his head, until he no longer can.

Needless to say, the speech he finally makes, which we do hear at the end, is radically different from the one he was rehearsing.

Following his bravura performance, Hayman fields questions from the audience as himself about the play and its message, where he shows he is as informed, confident and committed as his character.

While some may not like the message, there is no faulting the quality of the writing and the acting and the commitment behind it.