Netting, Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan


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.

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