Review: Bingo! - Fun show doesn't quite clickety click

TRUST, friendship, family and blood, lots of blood, lie at the heart of this gallus new co-production from Stellar Quines and Grid Iron.* * * *ASSEMBLY HALL, Mound Place

A bittersweet tale of betrayal set in a bingo hall, Anita Vettesse and Johnny McKnight’s new musical gathers together some of Scotland’s finest acting talent and let’s them run with a premise that is as ridiculous as it is touching, and as hilarious as it is tragic.

Daniella has done ‘a very bad thing’ and desperately needs a win. Mary knows exactly what she has done, although Daniella’s pals down the bingo are yet to discover just how her actions will shatter their dreams.

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Leading the cast gloriously, Wendy Seager and Louise McCarthy, as the dysfunctional mother and daughter, sing, dance, hop, roar and cry their way through the evening with great support from the rest of the ensemble.

All play caricatures, grotesques imbued with barbed observations on ‘working-class’ life, often with uproarious results.

McCarthy’s axe-wielding Daniella, full of manic energy, drives the action, aided and abetted by Seager’s coldly sardonic and brutally waspish Mary.

Both capture the appalling unseen toll a life of poverty can bring. Visceral and funny in equal measure, it’s a powerful brew.

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Then there’s Barbara Rafferty as the elderly Joanna who has Henry her pet hoover in tow. Rafferty quite simply steals the first act with a bravura performance steeped in pathos.

Darren Brownlie, the only male in the company, brings all the stereotypical camp of a hyper-active John Inman to the role of Donny, a hysterical performance that has the audience laughing out loud.

As his sensible side-kick Betty, Jane McCarry may be under-used, but when she does have her moments, they are so worth waiting for, Jo Freer too is on fine form and warmly empathetic as best pal Ruth.

If the cast are top class, the same sadly can’t be said for uneven material with which they work.

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Never quite sure what it wants to be, songs are largely forgettable, there is little subtlety in the over-written script, and Jemima Levick’s loose and messy direction meanders when it needs to power through.

That said, this tragi-comedy does build to a blistering dénouement, full of true humanity.

Run ends 17 March

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