The Guid Sisters
Michel Tremblay, translated by Martin Bowman and Bill Findlay
The Royal Lyceum Theatre Company and The National Theatre of Scotland
The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
I dinna ken why mair fouks wisna a this wunner o a show. Unlike this excellent cast I can't sustain Scots much further than that. This is a superb revival of a Québecois play from 1965 translated into Scots in the 1989. The cast of 15 are terrific, as is the bold, bright 50s of working class Glasgow they inhabit.
Germaine Lauzon (Kathryn Howden) is the queen bee with all the honey; she has won a million Green Shield stamps which will allow her to makeover her property. Howden more than fills the larger-than-life set as she enlists her friends in an evening of sticking the stamps into saver books so she can collect the contents of the whole catalogue.
The play begins with a snappy, fairly naturalistic exchange, between Germaine and her daughter Linda, played by Sally Reid, fresh from a not dissimilar role in Appointment With The Wicker Man, clearly NTS's go-to bolshy daughter. The show is far from a naturalistic though, with several characters stepping out of the scene to deliver excellent, spotlighted monologues.
The play features some great songs too, and the cast in their garish clothing really shine in these, especially the ode to bingo. The real joy of the show though lies in the dialogue with this colourful collection of characters all seated around the one kitchen table chatting, gossiping and argy-bargy-ing with each other while all the time helping themselves to the stamps behind Germaine's back.
There are many different sub plots threaded through as different characters divulge their stories. It is a wonderfully sharing experience and although some of the jokes are quite dated the exuberance of the piece and the performers shines through and the joyful cattiness of Scots makes you laugh along with the delightful ensemble.
The cast ranges from the well known, like Karen Dunbar as Germaine's sister sharp-tongued sister Rose, to fresh young faces like Marianne Tees as Linda's innocent friend Ginette. It is a fantastic ensemble and they really make the most of this timeless, fun and down-to-earth piece.
An absolute must-see show, heading to Glasgow after Edinburgh and one hopes continuing on further afield after that.
Reviewer: Seth Ewin