Dig, the first production in the Belgrade’s A Play, A Pie And A Pint season of lunchtime plays – zaps right into the zeitgeist.
It’s a tale of our nation’s economic woes, and their impact on ordinary lives.
Tommy is a working class Glaswegian who has strived for 20 years to make a success of himself in the property business.
But the calamity of the credit crunch has left him unemployed and possibly on the scrap heap. He certainly looks like the personification of an economic slump. A baggy, saggy bloke in a saggy, baggy track suit, crushed into the folds of a soporific sofa.
But Tommy’s rut is about to be ruptured. His estranged, younger brother, Dean, is fresh out of prison, and he’s managed to get a job driving taxis.
Now he’s arrived at Tommy’s house, desperate to make amends with his brother, and offer him a job.
Tommy wants nothing to do with his criminal sibling. However, wife, Brenda, is anxious for him to offer the hand of friendship, and grasp at the possibility of employment.
Dig is a decent short play, which cleverly squeezes dramatic mileage out of the country’s financial difficulties by adopting a relatively simple set up.
I imagine the play was a bigger hit in its native Glasgow, as some of the humour from the opening interaction between Tommy and Brenda was lost on the Midland audience.
Being a Glesga geezer, myself, I rather enjoyed those moments. I wasn’t so enamoured with the climax of the play, which relied on long-winded, overwrought speeches, which attempted to be poetic, though fell flat.
Less is more on such occasions.
What is left unsaid is usually more powerful than what is said, as the best drama does not explain, it merely hints.
Unfortunately, even decent stage work is now infected by the soap opera disease of argy-bargy angst. The desire to emote, emote, emote, is everywhere.
Dig still packs an emotional punch, though one less shovelful of shrillness would not have gone amiss.
Until tomorrow (Fri). The next play in the season is from Tuesday until Nov 4.