The space above the main auditorium of the Tron Theatre is a cosy studio space named the ‘Changing Rooms’, which by virtue of its title suggests an adaptable venue for works that are non-conventional in form or small in stature. The latest offering in this space was Ian MacPherson’s new play ‘Anguish With Posie’; a familiar tale of lost daughter finds neglectful father later in life. This is MacPherson’s first play with another person. He is better known for his one-man shows that have brought some praise at the Edinburgh Festival. He is known by many as a stand-up and his book Deep Probings: The Autobiography of A Genius has gained something of a cult following but has found some difficulty in being published.
Given his previous successes I was intrigued to see this transition. From the entrance of Posie, played by RSAMD student Nicola Daley, there was an uncomfortable sense that the pairing was not matched. MacPherson seemed uncomfortable and much of the initial dialogue jarred, punctuated only by the recurring Spanish tourist music that played at intervals in the flat below to little comic effect. The character of Aengus, a tired, blocked writer in his 50s (played by MacPherson), seemed stunted, and his flustered demeanour seemed a device to cover a general unease on stage.
The implausible plot of lost daughter working as a personal assistant for Aengus before revealing herself at the end (despite being a secret from the audience) was immediately obvious from the beginning and the ‘surprising revelation’ at the end, limp for it. This was not helped by the overwhelmingly melodramatic delivery of the dialogue following Posie’s confession. A particular moment of ‘revelation’ was Posie’s recital of a large segment of text chosen at random from her father’s book. This was unnecessary, and Daley’s delivery of it with fists clenched, fighting to hold back tears seemed out of sync with MacPherson’s nonchalant appearance sitting at his desk on the verge of twiddling his thumbs. The production had been billed as a Tragicomedy but I’m not sure that this was supposed to be the funny part.
After the 60 minutes of performance and the sixty or so frenetic changes in mood and timbre that ran throughout I was left with a sense that I had watched something sped up and slowed down for the duration. It is fair to say that MacPherson has not yet found his feet working with another onstage. In this case it was probably a poor choice to have chosen such a difficult and testing on-stage relationship for his first project.