Arts Review: The New Maw Broon Monologues

Director: Liz Carruthers, 30th October- 9th November, Tron Theatre

Jackie Kay’s The New Maw Broon Monologues, a revamp of her 2009 play for Glasgay! 2013, updated to incorporate questions of Scottish independence amongst other current cultural references (note: this performance includes scenes of a twerking nature), takes us far from the usual Broon confines of Glebe Street or the But ‘n Ben. In fact, it takes us outwith the comic strip or real world altogether. A broken puzzle of a room, with Escherian staircases pasted with comic strips; a portrait of Paw Broon on a jigsaw piece islet; the bits and pieces of family life suspended above the fragmented scene: this is not where one would expect to find any one of ‘Scotland’s happy family that makes every family happy.’

Terry Neason’s Maw Broon finds herself in an existential crisis, guided through it by her philosophising doppelgänger (Suzanne Bonnar), and musically accompanied by composer, Alan Penman, as Daphne as well as members-various of the Broon brood. It’s initially difficult to tell whether the acting is cartoonish or simply clumsy, but bumbling gives over to a surprising humanity. Alongside the realisation that she is a cartoon, ‘no real’, and in fact only exists on Sundays and has never aged in over seventy years, we see Maw Broon deal with current issues facing Scotland as a woman who has been a formidable matriarch since 1936. Jackie Kay’s poetry makes its way onto the stage as songs and sketches including ‘Maw Broon Visits a Therapist’ and ‘Maw Broon Goes for Colonic Irrigation’. Amongst these social contexts we see Maw Broon learn to exist in her own right through an admittedly disturbing but insightful discussion and exploration of female anatomy (as opposed to Oor Wullie) and the touching quietness of ‘Maw Broon Looks at the Moon’.

The New Maw Broon Monologues provide an insight to representations of Scottish life by those who hold the cartoonist’s pen and create the storyboards in which people become two dimensional stereotypes. Kay’s Maw Broon becomes a beacon for everyone trying to break out of the story society has written for them.


[Caitlin MacColl]

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