JOYCE MCMILLAN on SOME OTHER MOTHER at Macrobert, Stirling, for The Scotsman 13.6.13.
3 stars ***
NEXT WEEK IS Scottish Refugee Week; and this weekend, the Tron Theatre plays host to this challenging new play about the fate of two asylum seekers in Glasgow, written by A J Taudevin, and first seen at a rehearsed reading last year. Inspired by photographs taken by Taudevin’s late brother Robin, the play tells the story of Mama, a refugee from north Africa, and her little daughter Star, holed up in a damp Glasgow tower-block with only occasional visits from an uncomprehending social worker.
Where most writers might take a documentary or naturalistic approach to such an urgent social issue, Taudevin chooses poetry and fantasy to explore the disturbed and fear-filled minds of Mama and Star, conjuring up an old African legend about a white bird in search of a safe place to nest, and Star’s fierce struggle to live with a rebellious inner wild dog of rage and disgust.
Sadly, though, in this fully-staged 75-minute version, the text seems to lack last year’s tight focus on Mama’s acute fear, and increasing detachment from reality. The bleakly grubby naturalistic set somehow fails to respond to the mythic elements of the text. And despite a heroic performance from Billy Mack – well matched by Shvorne Marks as Star – the decision to half-merge the character of the Dog-Man with that of Star’s elderly male neighbour makes no dramatic sense; in a play that nonetheless remains an ambitious and moving attempt to enter into the horror routinely experienced by asylum seekers, and often met not with compassion, but with hostility.