Theatre: Men Should Weep Dundee Repertory

Don't Look Back in Anger or Else is all too often the theatrical response and cop out to the recent past. Practitioners seem to prefer to whitewash where it was really at with cheap sentiment and endless "Good Old Days" singalongs, particularly when addressing the Thirties and Forties. Such Stalinist rewriting of history is particularly prevalent in - adopt patronising tone - Scottish Working Class Drama, with much of what passes for it these days being lame bums-on-seats exercises that insult the intelligence of the audiences it claims to want to reach.

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

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power