SIX BLACK CANDLES
by Des Dillon.
Goldfish Theatre Tour to 22 May 2011.
Runs 2hr One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 20 April at the Brunton Theatre Musselburgh.
Brightly burning dark comedy from the author’s own company.
He spent so long waiting for this play to be staged that author Des Dillon had rewritten his story of six sisters turning to Black Magic in order to curse the lover who’d deserted one of them, as a novel by the time the original script was successfully premiered at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum in 2004.
Now – it’s one way to ensure a revival – Dillon’s established new Scottish touring company, Goldfish, with Candles as its first production. If John Binnie’s revival doesn’t have the resources of Mark Thomson’s premiere, it keeps the same designer, and one actor among a fine new company.
Becky Minto’s set has to be transportable, being assembled and taken-down nightly, so suggests the room where the sisters meet skeletally- though with a necessarily solid door, through which faithless Bobby tries his appeals, and where the local Catholic priest is kept waiting as – once again – the women clear away evidence of their rites before admitting him.
They treat him well, yet are behaving badly while doing so, having quickly turned over the rug on which they’ve created a mystic pentangle with tape – improvised Satanism – and dumped the incapacitated sister on a sofa so an able-bodied sibling can occupy her wheelchair and seem, miraculously, to stand and walk. While hiding their own rites, they encourage frivolous use of Catholic ritual. For men, and their institutions, are the enemy.
And non-conformist behaviour stands strong in these women’s DNA. Perhaps skipping a generation; Maw, more or less, sees rails as things to keep on rather than bend to shape. But Gran’s gleefully glued to her “magic tranny”, the radio she shoulders to listen to police reports, updating everyone on the traffic situation.
Dillon hilariously creates sympathy with his female clan and their sympathetic magic – the finest token of which eventually emerges from the fridge. Things are played with lively energy, with strong contrast between the sisters – scary, posh and so on, they’re like a latter-day set of council flat Spice Girls.
Yet Dillon creates them ready for the independence and spirit this cast provides, in a show that launches Goldfish swimmingly.
Geddy: Maureen Carr.
Bobby/Priest: Stephen Docherty.
Gran: Kay Gallie.
Linda: Vivien Grahame.
Wendy: Sian Manningfield.
Caroline: Beth Marshall.
Maw: Linda Duncan McLaughlin.
Donna: Carmen Pieraccini.
Angie: Wendy Seager.
Director: John Binnie.
Designer: Becky Minto.
Lighting: Sky Bembury.