An unusual pairing of ornithology and apocalypse, Steven Thomson’s Glasgay! commissioned production of Panic Patterns is a bit of a dramatic dead duck.
Two lovers studying the rhythmic patterns of birds become stranded on an abandoned Scottish island. As the distress calls fail and the behaviour of the birds become more panicked, cabin fever threatens to destroy them.
Written by Zoe Strachan and Louise Welsh, two higher flyers in contemporary Glaswegian literature, the script is witty and the characters very well conceived. As a character study, the play is a great success, managing to both align and challenge gender roles in lesbian relationships and clash the scientific consciousness with a more primitive, myth-making one. As a dramatic performance though, the action seems deeply stilted, diffusing the intermittent tension of the situation with time consuming lace-tying and ineffectual emptiness.
This does nothing to malign two excellent performances by Selina Boyack and Veronica Leer. Their ambivalent relationship is genuine and tender, impassioned and bewitched.
Like Icarus, the play is admirably ambitious and raises the spirit of same-sex relationships to a level of realism largely unseen on the Scottish stage. However, the climb to the play’s conclusion is too slow, seldom flying close enough to the sun to blaze with the power of the coming apocalypse.