28 May 2009 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews Whilst Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall may have given home food production a thoroughly modern ethos, Tron Studio’s production of The Allotment has given it a prize winning heart. Nurtured and propagated by a charming, if imposing, cast of fourteen local actors, Lawrence Crawford’s latest play captures the spirit of a close-knit community of urban horticulturalists.
With characters as colourful as a flowerbed in June, there is a lot going on down in the allotment. A.C (
Kenneth McKie), a troubled Gulf War veteran, inherits his father’s old plot, garnering the attention of the established great and the good of greenery. Dropped into the seed tray of the community, A.C. sows his talents with the help of prize marrow grower Paul ( James Campbell), herbal scientist Bryan ( Gary Hendry) and Alan Titchmarsh stalker Elizabeth ( Lisa Lynn). The play tracks the botanical experiences group of fourteen through the seasons, brushing such issues as alcoholism, the recession and conspiracy theorist David Icke. Laura Nasmyth’s set design is wonderfully kitsch and altogether more elaborate than is usually seen in the venue. Pretty little plots, surrounded by happy little gnomes and flowers which change with the seasons, aptly reflect the overblown personalities of the play’s eccentric characters.
What beautifully blossoms in the first part wilts quite suddenly in the second. The challenge of convincingly tying up the subplots of each and every one of the play’s fourteen characters is one which poses some difficulty. To shamelessly harvest a joke from the production, it lost the plot at this point. Such overgrowth of character history eclipses, if only temporarily, the focus of the script and the centrality of its meaning. Fifteen minutes could have been easily trimmed from the second half.
Such problems are of no detriment to the wonderful cast. Their lack of pretension gives the production a genuine warmness that is uncommon in theatre. They sparkle with a typically Glaswegian charisma. Their styles are as varied as their produce and the result is highly entertaining. The standout performance of the night is undoubtedly
Kenneth McKie. A satisfying all-rounder, McKie relishes the comedy and the sensitivity required of a role walking the line between post-traumatic stress and stress over potatoes.
Though it is not perfect, Crawford and his cast have found a few treasures buried at the bottom of the garden.
- Scott Purvis
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