JOYCE MCMILLAN on HOME at Oran Mor, Glasgow, 27.11.13.
4 stars ****
THERE ARE PLENTY of plays around at the moment about old age and dementia, most of them struggling to say more than the obvious about the inevitable sadness and decay of life’s final years. In her first Play, Pie and Pint show Home, though, brand-new playwright Jenny Knotts demonstrates exactly why she is the first-ever winner of the David MacLennan Award, created by Play, Pie and Pint’s legendary producer for a young writer seeking a first professional production of his or her work
At first, the story seems simple; In the living-room of the house where they grew up, sisters Agnes and Maggie seem to be waiting for a moment of inevitable change and letting-go. Agnes is in a wheelchair, but still vigorous, with all her wits about her, and connected to the world through her son and baby granddaughter; Maggie is childless, widowed, and increasingly confused, and for her the race is almost run.
The play revolves around a late plot-twist that makes sense in itself, but casts a slightly confusing light on some of the earlier dialogue. What it has in abundance, though, is a fine sense of theatre, as Maggie tries to recruit us – in the role of her imaginary audience of long-gone family and friends – as witnesses to her loneliness, and Agnes finds herself trapped in strange double role as both loving sister and cruel nemesis. It’s a mark of the quality of the writing that Susan Worsfold’s production draws two stunning performances from Ann Scott Jones as Agnes and Kay Gallie as the loveable, helpless, fag-smoking Maggie. And if the play’s vision of Maggie’s final days is unremittingly sad and poignant, it still creates two completely memorable characters, fully human to the end.