JOYCE MCMILLAN on DARE TO CARE at the Adam Smith, Theatre, Kirkcaldy, 10.3.14.
3 stars ***
THE PREMIERE of a new show from Scotland’s top women’s theatre company – staged on International Women’s Day, focussed on the vital subject of women in prison, and featuring a strong all-female cast – should be one of the theatre events of the year. And in many ways, the Kirkcaldy opening of Stellar Quines’s Dare To Care – set to tour on to Aberdeen, Inverness and Stirling, before it arrives at the Traverse next week – measured up to expectations; Muriel Romanes’s production features six fine, compelling performances, as well as terrific sound, music and songs by Philip Pinsky and Patricia Panther, and some riveting video images by Jade Currie.
The truth about Dare To Care, though, is that Christine Lindsay’s brief script, based on her own long-term experience as a prison officer, isn’t quite strong enough to carry the weight of the production. It’s full of vivid fragments and monologues; and one or two memorable characters begin to emerge from the gloom of Keith McIntyre’s sparse and dream-like set, thanks to a cast that includes Rebecca Elise, Molly Innes and Meg Fraser, all on impressive form.
Without a strong narrative, though – or a well-developed sense of its own poetry – the play often seems like little more than a series of grim violent incidents recounted, among many shouted obscenities. As an act of revelation and education it has a clear value, and its staging is both imaginative and bold; but at the moment, it still looks more like a cathartic work-in-progress, than a fully-fledged piece of theatrical art.