By Danielle Farrow
Alan Bissett, with his own short crop and lack of any ‘feminine’ makeup, gives us Moira Bell – a woman fae Falkirk – through invisible cigarettes and weed, swearing, some crude attitude and anger issues that have instilled fear in the neighbourhood, and Moira Bell is beautiful. This show is beautiful: wonderful observations, cutting to the heart of many matters social, political and personal, and golden in that heart and the understanding being offered to us.
The setting is simple, created by a couple of props, a few pieces of furniture (including a bassinet, for Moira is a gran now) and lighting that helps to bring specific focus as well as change scenes, usually accomplished along with a quick rearrangement of the furniture. Bissett is dressed in pink and grey t-shirt, sweats and trainers, and it is his mannerisms that create a woman, rather than any affectations of voice or accessories. At the end he credits his director Sasha Kyle with keeping him from overtly masculine movement, and the smooth, easy, delivery of these monologues – where we really feel that we are in Moira’s world, being naturally included in her life – speaks volumes for the work that has gone into the show, written as well as performed by novelist Bissett.
(More) Moira Monologues may not be a piece you are likely to remember for the rest of your life (our criteria for 5 stars), but it will linger and it is brilliantly written and played – the strongest show this reviewer has seen in the 2017 Fringe and Festival so far. Bissett brings his creation – and a number of others with whom Moira interacts, to vivid and entertaining life, as Moira tells her friend Babs about what is going on for her interacting with neighbours, travelling to see family, considering her personal relationships, and generally going out and about around Falkirk, getting on with her life and sharing her views. These include pithy description, hilarious anecdotes and rich turns of phrase, and all is deeply embedded in the Falkirk life that Bissett knows and the women he has obviously very warmly observed. Moira is certainly no angel, but she has an eye for the absurd and a way of perceiving bullshit that can be highly amusing even while it hits home, and she has a heart of gold, which likely echoes such a heart in Bissett in this homage to those he seems to have grown up knowing.
The Skinny has called Moira ‘a legend’ and it is not hard to see why: in Moira Bell, Bissett delivers a larger than life character who is still incredibly real, and he uses brilliant observation, great comedy, witty dialogue (yes, we do feel we’re getting dialogue in this monologue) and also packs in some very apt socio-political punches. A goodly number of the audience had seen the original Moira Monologues and the rest of us definitely wished that we had – here’s to more (more) Moira!
Until 28th August, not 21st; 19:00 (20:00) @ Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30)