Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us

Thu 9th – Sat 11th August 2012

reviews

Sara Pridgeon

at 09:16 on 10th Aug 2012

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'Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us' is a depressing – though often humorous – look into the unravelling of a working class family. A sense of what could have been, of opportunities wasted, pervades the work and it is clear that the characters know that they only have themselves to blame for their failures. Patrick (Gary Quinn) has returned home from the seminary and is immediately drawn into his brother Johnny’s (Gavin Macgregor) financial troubles. Sister Cath (Kirsty Nicolson) is waiting for Johnny to reimburse her for the money she lent him; their mother (Cari Silver) has mostly given up on them, and their father (wonderfully portrayed by Jacques Kerr) is a drunk. It is, as Patrick says later, a poisonous environment – all of them are crippled by the dysfunction of their family. EGTG’s production, directed by Claire Wood, is well done and contains some wonderful moments.

'Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us' featured strong performances across the board, but Kerr’s drunken speeches were the highlight of the show. He was well suited to the role, able to move between the facets of his character with ease, charming one minute and authoritarian the next. Also of note was Nicolson, who captured Cath’s hopelessness and resigned desperation while still allowing her character a spark and a feistiness that displayed her potential - who she could be if she had the chance. Quinn and Macgregor played off each other well as they portrayed two very different brothers; Silver was convincingly hardened and embittered by life.

The set, on split levels, presented the family living room and dining room; it was a versatile use of space and was well used by the cast. Alhough there wasn’t much to be done in the few set changes that were needed, they took a surprising amount of time; the soundtrack, although well chosen, did not effectively cover these gaps.

The family is lost, miserable, and barely capable of functioning. Some of the sensitivities and darker aspects of the show are masked by its comedy; these elements linger and come to a head after the fact instead of during the performance itself. Sadly the production’s energy dipped towards the end – it dragged itself to the final scenes, and the ending did not seem to fit with the rest of the production. This, I believe, is more a problem with the play itself than with this particular cast, but it was unfortunate nonetheless. Still, 'Nobody Will Ever Forget Us' is a solid production that is well worth a watch.

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Daniel Malcolm

at 11:54 on 10th Aug 2012

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A Scottish council house stereotype will conjure for you the larger-than-life cast of 'Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us': a dissolute but charismatic father, poet of the bottle, who makes up for his failure in the world by lording it over his tight-lipped, devout wife; his train-wreck of a son and his hollow-eyed daughter; and the pious misfit who has unexpectedly arrived home early from seminary - whom it's hard to believe ever issued from his loins. But recognisable though this motley crew are, the powerful rendering of their telling lines belied cliché.

The struggle for power between the father's bullying baritone and his berating nag of a wife resonated well beyond the bounds of the setting. It was genuinely embarrassing to hear this proud but delusional man make such a self-assured ass of himself in front of his grown-up sons, as he lurched drunkenly between more-or-less rational lines of reasoning, delivering all with the same unabashed self-assurance.

Patrick posed a nice contrast to his father: his piping voice, though spouting wisdom, totally lacked the conviction that his father's folly carried. His air of affection was so extreme that it created problems for his character and for the plot; his confidence and even his concern seemed all put on. While this worked well for his early scenes of detached condescension, it rang hollow later in the play. He interest in his father's anecdotes - though supposed to be genuine - came across feigned.

In terms of the plot, the transparency of Patrick's untruthful denial that he has enough money to help his brother undermines the revelation later on. Indeed, in general, the advancement of the action - as opposed to the unravelling of the characters - progressed rather cack-handedly. Over-elaborately contrived by the devisor of the play, it lost all the potency of surprise in the hands of a cast, who weren't very good at keeping secrets.

The Royal Scots Club made for a rather grand venue for a play about working class misery; as one sat under expensive watercolours of the Scottish countryside, it was hard to imagine the squalor of inner-city council houses. The costumes more than made up for the luxurious upholstery however: Johnny's "I was amazing last night" tee-shirt was wittily appropriate for the golden-boy-turned-waster, who like his father is simply living in the past.

Too much is articulated at the end of the play: worse than the all-too-overt suggestions (in the form of prophetic dreams) that Patrick, already turning to drink, will slip back in the poverty-trap, is the facile disentanglement of the moral dilemmas of the play. For all this explanation, little seems resolved at the end of the play. In a way this reflects the dead-end that the family has reached: despite Patrick's "Take control of your own destiny" rhetoric, he seems helpless to change his family - and even perhaps himself. But the diffusion of Patrick's idealism makes for a rather limp end to the drama.

Perhaps, the despairing dead-end to which the play takes us explains the title's lack of conviction. 'Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us' is an amusing, lyrical, and at times poignant bit of social observation - but its plot lacked the bite to take this anywhere.

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