What do you do when you have your 100 year old granny living with you and eating you out of house and home? That is the problem facing the Russo family as they struggle to survive financially having already lost their fish and chip shop business “The Minerva Fish Bar” due to business ineptitude and a granny who had eaten her way through much of the stock.
The time is 1977 and the extended family still live in a flat above the closed shop. Long suffering wife Marie (Maureen Beattie) struggles to keep everything together as her husband Cammy (Jonathan Watson) not only refuses to accept that the chip shop will never re-open, but also refuses to take any money from his “artistic” brother Charlie (Paul Riley) towards the household bills, feeds the never full up Granny (Gregor Fisher) and also keeps Aunt Angela (Barbara Rafferty). The pride of his life, his daughter Marissa (Louise McCarthy) seems to be the only person openly contributing any money into the household finances by means not made too clear.
Along the way, we also meet the now elderly chip shop business rival and former love interest of Aunt Angela, Donnie Francisco (Brian Pettifer).
The cast tonight are all experienced performers, and many of them are just simply part of Scottish Theatre having delighted audiences for many years. There is a genuine warmth here between the cast and audience, and that is particularly obvious as soon as Gregor Fisher appears on stage.
This is a play for a Scottish audience with humour that belongs to Scotland and performed by a very able cast that know exactly what their audience want.
The setting for the show starts before we even begin as 1970s chart music is playing out over the theatre. If you are old enough you will recognise instantly Slade, Sweet, Rubettes, Mud, Suzi quarto and of course The Bay City Rollers. The setting on stage is a very good recreation of what a “modern” but not “designer” flat would have looked like in the late 1970s. Care is also taken with the period fashions and colours (were some really that bad)? People on the right hand side of the theatre would unfortunately have missed the nice little touch of the old chip shop illuminated sign still being there and visable through the right hand window of the flat.
There is also a running theme of the shop being re-opened in time for The Queens Silver Jubillee and The Queen coming in for some chips. This theme plays out in the end against the musical backdrop of The sex Pistols “God Save The Queen”.
For myself, I enjoyed the first half of the show far more than the second half. The first half was just a very funny show suitable for any age of audience. The second half introduced the crude and elderly Donnie Francisco, and although the show rating was 14+, we all knew what Donnie wanted, and the at times explicit remarks from him did little to advance the story line. The show is very good, but without some of these comments, the show would make a fantastic family show that would be suitable for a far younger audience too.
This was far funnier than I thought it would be and the audience just seemed to love the show and the cast in equal amounts.
Director Graham McLaren has done a fine job with this one and Playwright Douglas Maxwell has done an equally fine job adapting this work for the stage.
This IS Scottish Theatre for a Scottish audience by some much loved Scottish actors, and we sadly do not get enough of that these days. “Yer Granny” is on until Saturday 6th June and is well worth catching
Review by Tom King