I suspect that many regular visitors to the National had never heard of Men Should Weep or Ena Lamont Stewart - I certainly hadn't - but it's an excellent play and well worth reviving in this age of austerity. From the far remove of the Lyttelton circle it's difficult to fully appreaciate the quality of acting from a large ensemble or Bunny Christie's split level set and the broad Glaswegian dialect takes time to get used to. It's clear though that Sharon Small excels as Maggie, struggling to hold her family together amidst grinding poverty. Despite the title, not all of the men in the play are workshy wife beaters and there is a lovely tenderness between Maggie and her husband of 25 years. The Christmas setting of the final act brought some welcome humour but I suspect that the possibility of a happy ending is a bit of wishful thinking on the part of the author. I had to cancel my original trip to see this play but, even from such a remote seat, this rearranged visit brought a welcome discovery - David Baxter
15 Dec 10
This really is a very boring play and far too long. One of the rare times I nearly left at the interval but I stayed hoping for an improvement in act two but unfortunately there was none. - ils
19 Nov 10
A terrific piece of set building by the NT, but a completely over staged production. In a play, seemingly from the title, about men the real stand out performances come from the 7 or so actresses in the cast. I didn't even have to make use of the sub-titles on offer even though the actors were speaking with Glaswegian accents so thick you could cut them with a knife. Unfortunatley, for me anyway, it diddna same ta gae ennywhar which was a shame because it has some terrific moments. Great though to see the NT bringing some of British theatres "lost" plays back to the stage again. - rds
17 Nov 10
This play certainly portrays the strength of the women of the time who single handledly worked to keep their families together in terrible conditions. Survivors they definitely were. I found the staging a little off putting at first with action on several levels but what it did do well was to depict how tenament life looked. Also the lighting effects were a little annoying and seemed to add little and the accents made the natrrative hard to follow at times. However there is no denying the power and emotion of the play with Sharon Small as Maggie at its heart giving a heart breaking portrayal of a woman doing all she can to keep her family together. A stark reminder of the importance of decent housing for all, this is a play worthy of revival. - Paul Wallis
09 Nov 10
A superb set with good actors giving a decent performance. There is little in the way of a plot and the play struggles to convey how harsh it was living in Glasgow at the time; the programme notes are better at conveying this.
The end result is that the play builds up little momentum and as it plods on struggles to retain the interest of the audience. - Richard
06 Nov 10
At last! A neglected 20th century British play / playwright at the National. Gritty social realism ¨C just up my street. The opening is terrific. Ten windows on two floors of the facade of a Glasgow tenement open and their female occupants start berating their children in the street. Brilliant. We then move inside Bunny Christie¡¯s finely detailed building, which manages to create the claustrophobia of the two rooms (and stairwell) where the action takes place and, by showing parts of four other rooms, the on-top-of-each-other community life that tenements created. We¡¯re with the Morrison family and the play centres around wife / mother Maggie, superbly played by an almost unrecognisable Sharon Small. Husband John (Robert Cavanah, also very good) is jobless and useless. We have eldest son Alec and his demanding and devious wife Isa, back home because their tenement has collapsed! Daughter Jenny has gone off and found herself a sugar daddy and son Bertie is hospitalised with TB, brought on my the desolate conditions. Granny¡¯s staying (a lovely performance from Anne Downie), spinster sister Lily visits to dish out support and criticism in equal measure and there¡¯s a trio of neighbours like those in Love on the Dole and the snug at the Rovers Return in the 60¡äs ¨C cracking performances from Karen Dunbar, Lindy Whiteford and Isabelle Joss. Not a barrel off laughs you might think, but there is much irony and humour ¨C a scene on Christmas Eve with the neighbours popping in for tea and cake is an absolute gem. It takes a while to attune to the thick Glaswegian, but when you do there¡¯s a richness to the language which adds much. Ena Lamont Stewart¡¯s play has its weaknesses, with the first half too much ¡®slice of life¡¯ and not enough storytelling (and a bit long), but Josie Rourke¡¯s production is wonderfully evocative and completely vindicates the decision to revive it.
More 20th century BRITISH drama at the NT please! - Gareth James
06 Nov 10
It's rare that I walk out of a play at the interval. I simply didn't want to know what happened to the characters in the third act because there was almost no plot. The set was fabulous, better than the acting; but the play was really going nowhere, there was no sense of dread or concern. As for the accents, let us draw a tactful veil over some of them, since Londoners will know no better, and Glaswegians will have winced. - Sardonic
28 Oct 10
Great production with some stand-out performances and one of the best sets I've ever seen. Only a few jarring moments, as when Maggie's sister asked her when she had last done her hair the answer to which could well have been "I've just come form the hairdressers" given her near perfect hair-do. The lighting effect at scene change also jars but I think deliberately - the sudden insertion of modernism perhaps challenging us to remember (from the comfort of our theatre seats) that poverty isn't something totally confined to history. - PJ
28 Oct 10
Jings Krivens help ma boab... what a stinker! Coothie (Scotch for Scotch) orgy of weegie moaning, but very true to life today in Edinburgh between Festivals. This is the sort of thing that we're usually made to suffer from the National Theatre of Glasgow, surely only political correctness and 'inclusion' could force a professional company to touch such tripe (like Haggis) with a barge-pole. It is also directed like a comedy sketch and drew derisive laughter from the savvy London audience. - coral
28 Oct 10
One spends the first ten minutes getting used to the heavy accents.....and then...with excellent casting one has a voyeuristic tableau of life in a run-down tenement.
Its easy to get picky but, just for once, one comes away somewhat guilty in intruding into one family's problems. (Obviously this from a non-soap watcher).
I agree about the lights, and the set would have been better if it had shown slightly more of the flat upstairs (to the expense of not having the flat below-perhaps) but the National has put together a good evening and well worth your time in seeing it.... - steve
28 Oct 10
A greatly entertaining play with superb acting by all members of the large cast. However the play despite its many themes did not end up having the emotional punch that I expected. The set was interesting on three levels the main level was a superb design but it was more than extravagant in these frugal times to have a partial view of the upstairs and downstairs with actor moving around, audiences are able to use their imaginations as to what a Glasgow tenement is like. And why did we need the fluorescent lights in the walls for scene changes? It is a shame that the set prevents me awarding 5 stars to a great play as i feel that despite its lavishness it was a distraction - Chris
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