JOYCE MCMILLAN on SPORTS DAY at the Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 7.6.14.
3 stars ***
THERE’S A LIVELY paradox at the heart of this impressive new community show from the Citizens’ Theatre company, designed to celebrate Glasgow’s special summer of sport. One one hand, it’s show about competitiveness, and all the forms it takes; in putting it together, co-directors Guy Hollands and Neil Packham have commissioned thoughts, monologues and sketches from 17 of Scotland’s leading writers from Douglas Maxwell to Linda McLean, built around the theme of a school sports day, and reflecting the whole range of school-age dilemmas and parental attitudes.
So there’s fierce rivalry among the mothers running the cake-stall, and the high comedy of the super-competitive Dad who insists on his son calling him “Coach”. And there’s also the show’s central figure, Geraldine the about-to-retire janitor, played by Joyce Falconer as a battling granny in a pink tracksuit who is only interested in winning one thing, and that’s the referendum on Scotland’s independence.
Yet on the other hand, Sports Day is one of those shows that could not succeed at all without superb, generous and supremely non-competitive team-work from everyone involved, including the 65-strong community cast, and Michael John McCarthy’s four-piece band. The show is inevitably episodic, more like a series of snapshots than an in-depth exploration. Yet it still leaves us with dozens of vivid images of those born to shine, and those fated to come last; and the show is illuminated by a five or six terrific monologue performances from the Citizizens’ outstanding community company, in a city where solidarity always matters as much as rivalry, and where community matters most of all.