The Russos are not your typical family. Sure there's a mum, a dad and a daughter but when you factor in a layabout uncle, an overly dramatic aunt and a granny who’s eating them out of house and home, you've got yourself the perfect setup for a comedy play.
From the moment you enter the theatre you are catapulted into the 70's. Songs from The Bay City Rollers blast from the speakers as you get your first glimpse of Colin Richmond’s brilliantly realistic set (which could have been plucked straight out of a 70's living room). The level of detail is genuinely impressive with smoke-stained wallpaper and a flickering neon shop sign visible through the grimy windows. The special effects in the dramatic finale were an unexpected surprise and had the audience gasping and jumping in their seats.
As the story unfolds we realise times are tough in this household. The family fish bar has gone under and mum Marie (Maureen Beattie) is struggling to make ends meet. In a bid to combat the issue it is suggested that part time musician - and full time procrastinator - Charlie (Paul Riley) gets a job to pay his way. Horrified by this prospect Charlie comes up with a plan which he believes will solve everyone's problems, but what he actually does is send the whole family into chaos.
Douglas Maxwell’s adaptation of the original Argentinian play by Roberto Cossa really captures the complexity of family dynamics. Laughs are encouraged throughout both acts and the cast is made up of a host of well loved Scottish actors who give everything they've got. Barbara Rafferty’s character, Aunt Angela, really comes full circle during the show and Rafferty’s ability to play out the contrasting emotions Angela experiences was seamless.
Jonathan Watson gives a relatable performance playing Dad and breadwinner Cammy who is torn between being a provider and being too proud to ask anyone for help. A certain imaginary conversation Cammy has with the Queen in advance of her Jubilee visit had the audience in stitches.
If you're looking for a warm and fuzzy granny then look elsewhere as Gregor Fisher’s character is anything but. She’s food obsessed and would have been last in line when manners were being given out. Fisher makes her almost impossible to endear to, giving the audience a taste of what the other characters are experiencing.
The atmosphere in the theatre last night was simply electric thanks to the colloquial humour and energetic performances, and although I will never look at a jar of mayonnaise in the same way again it’s a great night out and not to be missed.
*Written by me for Backstage Pass