JOYCE MCMILLAN on MISH GORECKI GOES MISSING at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 19..4.10
3 stars ***
THERE ARE A HUNDRED AND ONE THINGS wrong with the Tron’s new children’s show, designed for audiences aged eight and over. In just 45 minutes, it sets out to tell the complicated tale of little Miish Gorecki, a talented dancer who wins a wonderful opportunity to go on a school trip to the Bolshoi Ballet in Russia. Her problem is that her family is so dysfunctional – mother in a nervous breakdown, older sister suicidal, baby brother largely neglected, and father never at home following the collapse of his business – that she can’t even find anyone to sign the consent form for the trip, never mind help her with the list of special shoes and clothes she needs. Throw in a few other strands of narrative – an eccentric school dance teacher, two playground bullies from Primary Seven – and you begin to catch the outlines of a story that would be tough to tell with only three actors, even if writer Skye Loneragan and director Leann O’Kasi were the most lucid storytellers around.
To say that they’re not is an understatement; instead, the show adopts an over-clever, show-then-explain structure that simultaneously obscures the impact of many of its theatrical gestures, and makes our understanding of the story over-dependent on complex verbal explanations after the fact. So why is Mish Gorecki still worth seeing? First, because the show has a solid-gold cast in Robbie Jack, Angela Darcy and Kirstin McLean, with McLean giving a tremendous performance as little Mish. And secondly, because the story itself is so well worth telling, and full of promise. Child neglect takes many forms, after all; and it’s salutary to be reminded that some of them are both subtle and cruel, as parents crack under the strain of trying to raise a family in an unforgiving world.