Traverse Theatre Company
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Broth concludes the spring season of A Play, A Pie and A Pint with several themes from earlier plays in this series of one acts by different playwrights, namely the ghosts of old men and trios of women spanning three generations.
Like Take The Rubbish Out Sasha, the man of the family was able to speak from the grave to his family. In this case though he wasn't forgiven by the family or the audience and there was no real grief over his death.
Jimmy (Ron Donnachie) begins the play sitting face down on the kitchen table, head covered in blood. His wife Mary (Kay Gallie) seems oblivious to his fate when her daughter and granddaughter, Sheena (Molly Innes) and Ally (Kirsty MacKay), appear. Another trio like in Leviathan.
Mary is hilarious as she munches on a biscuit and stresses about the state of her stock on the hob, keeping the audience guessing as to whether she has dementia or genuinely doesn't care that Jimmy is bleeding all over the kitchen table.
As it happens, it is the latter, and as Jimmy's ghost gets to speak—or is it a last gasp of life, you are never quite sure—you realise that no one in the family is mourning much for this brutish figure. Donnachie does a great job of creating this unpleasant character in the limited time before the rest of his family shut him up.
There is none of the forgiveness that Take The Rubbish Out Sasha had; this is a play about just desserts. There is some humour in the relationships between the three women, but none in their relationships with Jimmy.
The performances are good, particularly Gallie as Mary, but Innes and Mackay too, a complicated and entertaining family unit. Donachie as Jimmy is a great contrast, larger and louder like a bull in china shop; it is quite a relief when his spirit finally goes.
Although it is quite clear that Jimmy is violent and a drunk, there is some ambiguity as to exactly how he has hurt the other characters. This is probably for the best as there is only so much you can deal with in a short play.
A dark comedy with plenty to it, bringing back themes that we have seen already in this A Play, A Pie and A Pint Spring season. I'm sure many people will be looking forward to its return in the autumn.
Reviewer: Seth Ewin