Yer Granny

Roberta Cossa, new version by Douglas Maxwell
National Theatre of Scotland
King's Theatre, Edinburgh

Gregor Fisher as Granny Credit: Manuel Harlan
Barbara Rafferty as Aunt Angela Credit: Manuel Harlan

The chip shops around the King's Theatre have no doubt been doing a roaring trade after audiences come out of this show about an old woman's enormous appetite.

It's a fast food sort of play with a large helping of slapstick and plenty portions of belly laughs. However it isn't really nourishing theatre, particularly in terms of the plot.

Gregor Fisher is revoltingly hilarious in the title role, lumbering around the stage as the centenarian grandmother who cannot stop eating. Granny doesn't get much in the way of dialogue, but makes up for it in background stage business, largely eating of course.

The play is packed full of great characters brought to life by a fine bunch of comedians. Marie (Maureen Beattie) and Cammy (Jonathan Watson) are the straight couple to the craziness of the rest of the family: bone idle Charlie (Paul Riley), ditsy Marissa (Louise McCarthy) and totally nuts Auntie Angela (Barbara Rafferty).

So Marie and Cammy find they have far more on their plate than just a greedy granny: they have several other family members sponging off them. The rather predictable confrontations and conflicts seem quite drawn out and you feel like quite a lot of time is wasted setting up for particular jokes.

The play is a Scots version of Robert Cossa's La Nona, moved to Glasgow and specifically an Italian-Scot family, but kept firmly in the 1970s. The setting works so well you would be unlikely to know it had been translated. It's a wonderfully retro set with a heady aroma of nostalgia.

The production not only showcases '70s decor and furniture, but also '70s humour, which is fine if you like the rather grotesque smuttiness, for example an old man sleazing over young woman. If you want something a little less Carry On, then you probably need to head elsewhere.

There are some great physical performances aside from Fisher, whose wobbling gait and ever-moving jaw are very watchable: Aunt Angela's energy-pill-induced episode of madness. Rafferty does drugged-up in a funny and very real way, through voice and twitching body.

The play may be rather predictable—not totally though; you may find you jump at the end of the piece.

In its defence, there are plenty of good performances, the set is a wonderful museum piece, so are some of the jokes. With a title like Yer Granny, you would be silly to expect anything else. It certainly does what is says on the tin.

Reviewer: Seth Ewin