Rough Island

Rough Island

Oran Mor, Glasgow

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Three figures, caught in the half-light of times remembered, conjure up the iconic moment of the Live Aid concert at Wembley. Not that they were there. Instead, as Nicola McCartney's sharply observed, pithy and profound one-act promptly discloses, on that never-to-be-forgotten day in 1985, they were on a small tidal island somewhere off the Scottish mainland with a ghetto-blaster and poor radio reception. There's now a fourth member, Gary, who is the eldest and - with a place at Edinburgh University - the working-class cock of the walk. Girlfriend Sharon thinks so, until doubts about their romance creep in.

At first this briskly-paced, well-acted co-production, with Mull Theatre, deals in the snogging, drinking, acting up, that are part of the teenage condition. Very funny it is too, to begin with. But there's seriously challenging meat on the bones of this initial comedy and it pushes the relationships, the bullying, physical violence and point-scoring jibes into dark and dangerous waters. McCartney has woven in a good many tinderbox strands that emphatically reference the times - our foursome hail from the industrial Ravenscraig of 30 years ago - but the clashes over nationality, class, aspirations and opportunity that see Gary get tanked into the middle-class English Joanne are with us still, not least in the debates about Scotland's status. But if McCartney has recruited some stereotypes to fuel plot-lines and characters, she's side-stepped partisan conclusions in favour of a lament for lost dreams. There's a twist I won't spoil: but as the present-day coda makes clear, the past and its griefs never really fade from what we make of our future.

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