Theatre

Netting, Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

Loading article content

FOUR STARS

Row after row, and Kitty's determined knitting goes ever on. Her Doric accents would probably render that word "knitting" into "netting" - thereby catching at the play's context of the North-East fishing industry while suggesting the mesh of circumstances that variously bind and unravel Kitty's relationships with her two daughters-in-law, Sylvia and Alison. Three months have passed since their men went missing at sea. Tensions have ebbed and flowed, between the two younger women, especially - the uncertainty that keeps their grieving in limbo goads simmering resentments and rivalries to surface. When, however, a body is recovered, the possibility of closure for one - which one is left, initially, unresolved - simply intensifies the antagonism between Sylvia (Joyce Falconer, masking vulnerability under a "hard-as-nails" briskness) and the uber-needy Alison (Sarah McCardie, finding malicious depths in a somewhat shallow girl).

Of course, the rapid downing of much vodka helps fire up the accusations over past amours - "he chose me!" crows Alison, sending Sylvia into a melt-down of wounded denials. Kitty (a superbly and affectingly stoic Carol Ann Crawford) knits on, each stitch like a wish for her remaining family to stay close, and for Alison's wee boy to stay with her - a living connection with those who have gone. Morna Young's writing is powerfully rooted in their immediate loss, but the conflicting emotions she portrays - and those she astutely leaves unspoken - are the bone marrow of our humanity. Director Allie Butler and her cracking cast subtly negotiate the treacherous currents between the sheer banality, grim humour and corrosive despair of a grief that can't be cast off, like a piece of Kitty's knitting. Next week, Netting travels to Aberdeen's Lemon Tree: it will feel very close to home there.

sponsored by Heineken