Theatre: Men Should Weep Dundee Repertory
Friday 13 September 1996
Mercifully, this timely revival of Ena Lamont Stewart's play, first performed by Glasgow Unity in 1947, spectacularly revived by a vibrant 7:84 in 1982, and now presented here in a co-production between TAG and Dundee Rep, falls prey to none of these late 20th-century theatrical conceits, and could give any opportunist whipper-snappers a run for their tuppence ha'penny.
Set in a damp and dilapidated Glasgow tenement - and they still exist - over-run by the offspring of John and Maggie Morrison, the play unflinchingly charts the day-to-day struggles of the family against a microcosm of society's ills, where men are men despite everything, and the women either go the way of daughter Jenny and daughter-in-law Isa, whose sly, upwardly mobile street-savvy is acquired from endless hours in picture houses, or else knuckle down and keep the household together as best one can, which is Maggie's option. When John and Maggie's youngest child takes ill with TB, though, the entire family must swallow their pride to ensure his survival.
Despite the obvious temptations of the material, Tony Graham's stylish production is never maudlin. Indeed, such is the noble resistance to melodrama that at times it works against the play's emotional impact, with moments of tension not being held as much as they should be, instead being allowed to dissipate without any noticeable and necessary change of mood. What it does do, quite crucially and without any recourse to didacticism, is present us with a living, breathing picture of the Thirties, which reminds us just how awful the decade was, while shrugging its shoulders and asking - fully aware of how any human gains made over the past 50 years have all but been destroyed - what has really changed?
As John, Vincent Friel presents an accurately uptight bundle of contradictions, on the one hand autodidact firebrand, on the other patriarchal chauvinist, while Craig Fraser, as the weak-willed son, has real edge. But full honours, as in the Terence Davies films the play is so akin to, must go to the women. Catherine Keating, Pauline Knowles, and especially Mary McCusker as Maggie present a trio of heartily determined survivors. It's doubtful whether this production will have the same impact as its forebears, but it remains a template anyone interested in "popular theatre" should look to before reducing their flimsy wares any further. And yes, we are all prostitutes, and no, there's not a jot of shame in it.
n To 28 Sept. Booking: 01382 223530
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
- 5 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Ed Sheeran texts Noel Gallagher to offer him tickets after that Wembley Stadium rant
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Mortdecai becomes Johnny Depp's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Last Tango in Halifax, review: Can we ever really move on from Kate?
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'