God Bless Liz Lochhead is an actor’s play. Set against the challenge of cultural cuts and with a ‘can’t beat ’em‘ approach to the competition from TV, three middle-aged actors reunite after 25 years to stage a three-handed version of Lochhead’s Tartuffe.
Andy Gray, Juliet Cadzow and Kate Donnelly all play exaggerated versions of themselves, to great comedic effect. Bemoaning their ‘eclectic’ CVs and strings of bit-parts in Taggart, they squabble and bicker as they rehearse Danny’s (Gray) unique version of Locchead’s work, all the while being filmed by a reality television crew.
Martin McCardie’s script is full of satirical slings and arrows targeting the Scottish theatre scene; with an obvious but affectionate nod to the power and influence of the Makar herself. Co-directed by McCardie and Gray, God Bless Liz Lochhead will appeal to anyone with a passion for Scottish theatre: although some of the references are less likely to hit home with a more casual audience.
That said, the combination of farcical scenes and comedic monologues tears along at a great pace, with Gray’s desperate thespian preening and Donnelly’s ineffective anger management techniques providing most of the laughs. Redheaded Cadzow is also enjoyable, particularly with her comic swipes at Scotland’s other ‘flame-haired’ actress, Siobhan Redmond.
With its self-mocking tone and light-hearted chips on its shoulder, God Bless Liz Lochhead is uniquely Scottish, in tone and in subject matter. Witty and mischievous and with three perfectly-pitched comic performances, only its slight lack of accessibility to an audience not overly familiar with the homegrown theatre scene stops it being a classic.
God Bless Liz Lochhead runs until 5 Nov at the Traverse Theatre. Ticket information is on their website.