JOYCE MCMILLAN on NETTING at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 21.2.15.

3 stars ***

SET RESOLUTELY  in the living-room of a small house somewhere in north-east Scotland, Morna Young’s new Play, Pie And Pint drama is an intriguing mixture of the bold, the promising, and the absolutely dire.   Its strength lies in the primal, elemental quality of the situation it describes; after the loss of a fishing boat at sea, three bereaved women wait, hoping at least that the sea will give them back a body, so that they can hold a funeral.

Kitty is the matriarch, stolidly knitting her way through the intolerable loss of her husband and two sons, clinging to her one little grandson as a last remnant of family.  Alison, the boy’s mother, is slumped in grief, barely getting out of bed.  And Sylvia is the other daughter-in-law, brisk, strong, childless, and increasingly resentful of Alison’s parasitic dependence on Kitty.

When a body is found, though, the emotional balance begins to shift, amid scenes of mounting melodrama.  The landscape of primal family conflict and jealousy is both intense and frighteningly recognisable, the strong Doric voices unforgettable.  Yet somehow, both the text and the performances struggle to find a tone that matches the scale of the emotions.  Where the momentum should be unbearable, the pace is often sluggish; and what should be an epic story of female passions often ends up looking more like a badly-written episode of Eastenders, with Carol Ann Crawford as Kitty, Joyce Falconer as Sylvia, and Sarah McCardie as Alison, all struggling to find the place between surface naturalism and deep truth where drama of this intensity survives, and thrives.



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