Arts Review: Kill Johnny Glendenning

Dir. Mark Thomson, Citizens Theatre, 22nd October – 8th November

Kill Johnny Glendenning is a dark comedy from Scottish playwright DC Jackson, who has recently written for Channel 4’s Fresh Meat. Delving into the depths of the “Glasgow Mafia”, it’s rather more violent than the student TV comedy-drama, but with a similar style and just as many laugh-out-loud moments. It’s definitely a very Scottish drama and the Glasgow in-jokes are both refreshing and endearing.

Be warned however, this play is a total bloodbath. Someone seems to get shot at least every five minutes. Some members of the audience look visibly shaken as the lights come up after the first half.

The plot of the first half is comical but becomes a little predictable. Surreally, the action takes place in an old farmhouse in Ayrshire, inhabited by a decrepit old man and his mother. The gangsters are hiding a hostage there but then everything goes wrong and chaos ensues… However the second half is very creatively dealt with. Set at the same time as the first scene, but from a different perspective so that the audience can get answers for all the gaps left after the first half.

There are excellent performance all round, most notably from Neil Cooper in the title role as Johnny “the bastard” Glendenning, who does well in portraying the Irish loyalist gunman, managing to be very funny as well as utterly terrifying. The actors’ comic timing is impeccable and keeps the audience totally engaged throughout this crazy, energetic story.

The programmes shaped like mini newspapers are a nice touch. The projected shots of a fake biography of the the Irish gunman Johnny Glendenning on Amazon also hold a relevant message about the celebrity obsession of our times.

Smart, funny and fastmoving- a play definitely worth seeing.

[Alice Lannon]

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