One of the most remarkable things about Liz Lochhead's 1998 play is that, apart from a 2011 version in the Czech Republic, it has never been adapted for film or television. Here, after all, is a funny and utterly serious look at an independent career woman's mid-life struggle with life, love and a biological clock that is ticking ever louder, which arrived onstage just a few short months after Sex and the City was first aired. Throw in a gay best friend, a well-buffed toy boy and an ex-husband with a girlfriend half his age, and, in the right hands, it could have made for a fine mini-series at the very least.
As it is, Lochhead's edgy comedy concerning 39-year-old celebrity Glasgow hairdresser Barbs Marshall has become a stage staple that taps into the contradictions of a free-spirited 21st-century woman who seemingly has it all with wit, style and some very grown-up humour. Liz Carruthers's new production for Pitlochry Festival Theatre, starring Helen Logan as Barbs, appears to have updated some of its pop-cultural reference points, although to do that fully for the social media generation would require a brand new play.
It's the dialogue that counts, though, and Lochhead's lines fizz with gallus life as they're delivered by Logan, with Scott Armstrong as her best friend Brendan sharing some of the funniest exchanges. Beyond the complex emotional life Barbs sets herself up with, it is her mother Sadie, played by Estrid Barton, who provides the play's heart. As Barbs navigates her way to some kind of emancipation, what is revealed is a play about motherhood at every level.