Carefuly presented like something unearthed from the rubble of a demolished Glasgow tenement, Ena Lamont Stewart's Men Should Weep is an emotionally powerful and economically timely production: debunking of the myth of "the good old days", it dredges up the miserable realities of poverty, disease and Depression in our city's past and the invaluable friendships which helped our close ancestors to survive.
Graham McLaren has developed a fascinating snapshot of Scottish cities in the thirties, helped in no small part by Stewart's still relevant and still funny script. Colin Richmond's crowded tenement house design is claustrophobic, a keenly observed and immaculately preserved museum piece which both shines and stinks in its exquisite decay. Furthermore, the piece is presented in Scots, as is "richt", and fuelled by compassionate, indomitable women who would just have as soon thrown you a jelly sandwich when you tummy was empty as "skelpt yer erse fur nae washin' th' close".
And such women! Deacon Blue's Lorraine M McIntosh is excellent as mother Maggie, fraying with a subtlety which progressively worsens as she steals rare moments of happiness from amongst the ruins around her. As her sister Lily, Julie Wilson Nimmo is the spirit of the game old Glasgow spinster, bitter as she is benevolent, whilst Ann Scott-Jones's hilarious, morose and morbidly-obsessed Granny takes a bitingly recognisable pleasure in her joyfully joyless Scottishness.
The men of the piece hold their own well. As John, the blindly proud patriarch of the family, Michael Nardone is excellent, carefully finding the character's frustrations without losing sight of his vulnerability. Kevin Guthrie, too, finds the physical, frightening masculinity which makes men clench their fists instead of searching their hearts.
Not in recent times has a production so cleverly exposed modern Glasgow by tapping into our shared sense of cultural history. Men should weep: for so many of our grandparents, the good old days never happened. This production shows that things have not changed as much as we would like to think. Like a frightened but hardened child peeking through an ajar door, McLaren's production lays bare the domestic dramas of our past before throwing the door open and letting its fury flow from within.