JOYCE MCMILLAN on FACE and JACQUORANDA at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow for The Scotsman 16.6.14.
Face 4 stars ****
Jacquoranda 3 stars ***
PERTH THEATRE is closed for a refit, but Perth’s Theatre company travels on; in this case to hotel bars across Perth & Kinross – and the Victorian Bar at the Tron – with a pair of 45-minute lounge-bar monologues directed by Kenny Miller. And perhaps because people “in search of themselves” often move to beautiful places like Perthshire, both monologues involve images of middle-aged women breaking out of their conventional lives, and seeking fulfilment elsewhere.
In Peter Arnott’s Face, though, we hear not from the woman herself, but from her twin sister, a 59-year-old unmarried science teacher – superbly played by Janette Foggo – who feels utterly rejected both by her late mother, who preferred her carefree absentee daughter, and by the sister who has now even ditched the face the sisters share, thanks to radical cosmetic surgery; Face is an exquisite piece of writing, full of the timeless pain of those who are ageing and unloved, and too honest and intelligent to deny it.
Alan Bissett’s Jacquoranda is a slightly less persuasive affair, involving a crazed-looking dropout – played in over-the-top hippy style by Louise McCarthy – and her decision to start a new life of pseudo-spirituality at the behest of a sexually attractive guru called Pear Tree. There’s no drama here, since it’s plain from the start that Jacquoranda is lost in a maze of vulnerability and self-deception. And it’s not until the play’s closing moments, when she settles down to tell us a sad fairytale based on her own life, that the story begins to acquire some shape, and some real poetic power.