Fresh out of Belfast comes David Ireland’s comedy, “Can’t Forget About You” to Glasgow’s Tron Theatre. Stevie (You Lookin’ At Me’s? Declan Rodgers) is a 23 year old “boy” in a slump after a bad break up, who meets none-too-recently widowed, but still grieving Martha (Chewin’ The Fat’s Karen Dunbar) in Starbucks. The pair are decades apart, but in need of some ill-advised rebound sex, where the laws of “Catholic Vs Protestant”, “Half your age and add seven” and “For the love of God, don’t tell Mammy” (Carol Moore) are thrown out the window for some Wonder Woman role play.
Meanwhile, Stevie’s unity-obsessed sister, Rebecca (Abigail McGibbon) welcomes the Scot from “The Motherland” in favour of the controlling ex, Ciara (Naomi Rocke). David Ireland writes a story about the openness of sex blended with the issues of Ireland, with enough of the amusingly pronounced “fooks” as Stevie drags the many women around him into the 21st Century.
The Northern Irish slur-filled humour had the audience hiding behind their hands. Maybe, that was my problem? I had a Southern Irish grandmother; I know babies are created from the tears of Jesus and there is no argument tolerated on it. I know Daddies favour daughters, while Mammies favour sons, and that an Irish mother is a force to be reckoned with! A figurative wall around half the population isn’t going to change that, but the Unionist sister was a source of confusion, especially her calling Scotland “The Motherland”. As a Yes voter, I ask; “Why isn’t the Motherland, London?” So, maybe I just didn’t get it? Or maybe, just maybe, it takes more than a cuss in a line to tickle my funny bone?
Another case of “went right over my head” was the plot. It had so much of “a little bit of this” and “a tiny bit of that” that when I got asked what the play was about, I was stumped. Was I seriously just watching a case of boy meets g . . . woman with the predictable “It’s just sex, or maybe more?” plot line? Or, was it a hard-hitting comment on Irish customs? Doubtful, because nothing was hard-hitting for me.
However, the pinnacle of my problem with the play was the infuriating role of Karen Dunbar. What a waste of talent! In a comic play featuring Karen Dunbar, I expect to see a fake wig. Granted, I got that (Wonder Woman wig) but it was dragged off her head with a wimper that she was feeling too self-conscious. I can understand and respect if she doesn’t want to be typecast into “the funny one” part, but in that case, star in a period drama or an opera, not in a comedy as the boring one.
Ultimately, I was underwhelmed. I can’t say that I didn’t laugh, but I constantly wondered what the laughter was leading to, if anything! However, who else can say they spent a Friday night watching the individual trifle loving, lonely shopkeeper have an orgasm while dressed as Wonder Woman?! Enough to make even Christian Grey blush, I’ll bet.