Daily Archives: September 12, 2007

The Frock – Review 12 September 2007


JOYCE MCMILLAN on THE FROCK at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 12.9.07

3 stars ***

THERE’S SOMETHING OVERWHELMINGLY FAMILIAR about Kate Donnelly’s bright new romantic comedy The Frock, playing this week in the Play, Pie and Pint lunchtime theatre season. From the first romantic meeting at an understaffed club bar, through to the revelation that the our feisty heroine Dora isn’t the only character with an interest in wearing vintage frocks, the play is full of the common stuff of modern romance; there’s the drink, the vomiting, the casual sex with condom-related by-play, the touch of lightweight gender-bending, and the eventual rejection of old-fashioned machismo in favour of something more nuanced and more sorted. Time was when the image of a bloke in a dress and lipstick represented the height of theatrical transgression; now, it’s such a routine sight on British stages that it’s hard not to react with a yawn.

What makes Donnelly’s play a pleasure to watch, though, is the bubbly lightness of touch with which she handles this well-worn material, the deft Glasgow twist she brings to it – most of the action takes place in a strikingly hideous modern apartment at Glasgow Harbour – and the gift for sharp, sardonic comic dialogue Donnelly has honed over several years as a scriptwriter with, among others, Clare Hemphill and Elaine C. Smith. The blissfully upbeat tone of Dora’s unexpected romance with her grumpy ex-boyfriend’s best mate is beautifully sustained in Liz Carruthers’s production, which features a pair of star performances from Patricia Kavanagh and John Kielty as the happy couple. And if there’s a disappointing dip in energy close to the end – when Donnelly feels compelled to recycle several minutes’ worth of dreary advice-page detail about non-gay male transvestites and their ways – the play still finishes with a fine flourish, and a sparkle of hope that warms the heart.