The Wall

11 Mar 2008 in Dance & Drama

Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 4 March 2008, and touring

Finn den Hertog (Rab), Sally Reid (Norma) in The Wall by DC Jackson, directed by Gregory Thompson and presented by Borderline in association with Tron Theatre (photo - Douglas Robertson).

ENOUGH OF the state-of-the-nation tragedies! Sometimes all you want is a frivolous comedy where the girl gets the boy and the summer holidays last forever. Step forward Daniel Jackson and a full-length debut that’s as sweetly ephemeral as a pop song, performed with great comic timing and youthful pizzazz by four actors in this Tron/Borderline co-production directed by Gregory Thompson. Set in small-town Stewarton, where not only does everyone know everyone else’s business but also the business of everyone’s parents for several decades past, The Wall takes a wry look at the rites-of-passage rituals of a group of teenagers as they fumble their way towards falling in love. Preparing to re-sit his Highers, the gawky Barry (Scott Hoatson) is all fingers and thumbs as he makes an inexpert attempt to woo Michelle (Kirstin McLean) who is equally prone to embarrassing gaffes. Things go surprisingly well until rumours creep out about their parents’ relationship many years before. Throw in a hangover and a bloody nose, and it’s looking like the worst day of Barry’s life. Trying to navigate their own route from childhood innocence are Barry’s kid sister Norma, played by a hilariously glaikit Sally Reid, and Rab, a local ned – or is he actually a bam? – played by Finn den Hertog concealing hidden depths beneath the street-wise bravado. Built like a Shakespearean comedy of young lovers, complete with mix-ups, jealousies and happy ending, the play has a sitcom lightness of touch that makes it supremely easy viewing. Jackson is hardly the first playwright to take a nostalgic look at love’s first flowering, but he has a feel for a punchline and a strong sense of pace that give the play its freshness. He’s also got something to say about the passing of a generation of 60s idealists – communist firebrands and folk-loving hippies – whose youthful follies live on to affect their children’s generation. He doesn’t dwell on the theme – certainly not enough to weigh down the comic buoyancy – but it introduces a darker undertow that helps gives the play a sense of time and place. Maybe you won’t be talking about The Wall for years to come, but you’ll pass a very jolly evening in its company. The Wall plays at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, on 24-25 March. © Mark Fisher, 2008