Chris McLeish, Edinburgh Fringe, Gemma McGinley, Gemma McGinley and Lois Robertson's "Irrelevant.", Gillian Massey, Lois Robertson, Pandorum Theatre Company, Sandy Bain, Sweet Grassmarket, The Scotsman, Theatre Review
Over the last few days I seem to have subsisted wholly on student theatre, just as in my own student days I had subsisted wholly on value brand pasta. Over the last few days I have surely sat in on more merrily daft, late-night conversations about flatshare politics than I ever did when I was at uni myself.
Maybe it’s time to move on. I don’t want to become like one of those sour hacks who the Scotsman sends to review student plays. Their reviews are written to the most simplistic of formulae – there is a single star, or a begrudging two stars, a pointed refusal to obtain the names of the cast, and then finally a dismissal of the entire play with a waspish remark. The motivation is not hard to read. The play has reminded them of their own student dreams, the hopes whispered during their own youthful noctes ambrosianae, all of which have been since dashed on the foyer floor of the Scotsman’s offices.
I occasionally re-review plays which have been given one or two stars by the Scotsman. This year, their weary abuse towards “Deadline” and “The Lizards” has been, as expected, completely wrong and beyond inadequate as criticism. If they get a bit nearer to the mark with “Irrelevant” it is presumably by accident.
The male couple in this play, which is showing at Sweet Grassmarket, are not admittedly students, but there is the same late-night chat over wine, the same hipster giggling about apocalypse scenarios, and the same inevitable sofas. This is all endearing enough, but the problem comes when the writers, Gemma McGinley and Lois Robertson, try to slip some drama into the play. There is a suspicion that Billy (Sandy Bain) has orchestrated a terrorist firebombing, but his friends do not react to this with any authentic amazement. Their nitwitted attempts to interrogate him appear to confirm that “Irrelevant” is a farce and so later, when the play tries to wrap up with some social commentary, they have not invested enough to accrue these earnings.
It is a shame because Billy and his partner Rick (Chris McLeish) are nicely played, with a smarmy charisma which much more could be made of. The play also seems stunted and it resembles a single act which has been lost from the middle of a bigger, more complete play.
And what is going on with the wine? The characters periodically leave the room in which the play is based to fetch more red wine. The wine cannot be contained in a box or a bottle, because then they would bring it into the first room, rather than traipsing back and forth. You are left with the uneasy impression that these guys live in some sort of hipster housing complex in which Shiraz is on tap.