THE BLOOD IS STRONG
by David Hutchison.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Wine Café 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 4 June 2013.
Sun-Mon 7.30pm Tue 2pm.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 26 May.
Play about Scotland flowering gets nipped in the bud.
Capercaillie’s 1988 album ‘The Blood is Strong’ recorded music from a TV series exploring Gaelic influence around the world. Back home, things seem divided and indeterminate in David Hutchison’s new play. Yet the Finborough, proving itself a fringe national theatre for the UK in presenting drama from and about Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is right to get in ahead of the game with Hutchison’s look at currents flowing around the independence referendum.
It’s smart to shape the debate using the reliable dramatic devices of family tensions and the generation gap. Smart-suited young Jean joins the SNP and campaigns for a YES vote in the referendum, while father Alex, once part of a traditional tartan music duo from the age of Kenneth McKellar, Andy Stuart and The White Heather Club (which bored Britain every Hogmanay as TV annually remembered that’s a big thing in Scotland) is committed to keeping the union.
He has, after all, married an English wife, though as English here means from Gateshead she might want to jump ship and join the brave new Scotland.
Hutchison ends as the referendum result’s being announced, so he doesn’t have to commit himself, not even to prognostication. It’s a shame, for the assemblage of scenes (which would do far better on TV with logical editing doing its work, some musical moments, plus townscapes and climate in north-east Scotland all evident) never drives to anything conclusive.
While Margaret-Ann Bain’s Jean has a sense of direction, as does young programme-maker Ian, luring Alex into a hatchet-job feature on his career, her father seems to lack purpose. Martin Buchan lurches about the stage, his reunion with his former singing partner fizzling-out in drink, his CD-led career revival attempt involving the hamfisted comedy of an inept shopowner whose sole justification on stage must be to satirise enterprise allowances.
Scotland’s potentially independent future isn’t scrutinised, but the play’s main argument might be that standing on its own feet could at least rescue the country from maundering over its tartan-touristy past. Yet, as Jean and Ian, the newer, younger Scotland is already in the modern swim.
Jean/Louise: Margaret-Ann Bain.
Glen/Strachan: Alistair Findlay.
Alec: Martin Buchan.
Maisie: Janet Amsden.
Tweedie/Bobby: Neil McNulty.
Ian: Steven Miller.
Director: Bruce Guthrie.
Designer: Gabriella Slade.
Lighting: Humphrey McDermott.
Sound: Josh Richardson.