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Gut at the Traverse, Edinburgh

Published by: Clare Brotherwood on 26th Apr 2018 | View all blogs by Clare Brotherwood

Audiences will be talking about this play long after they have left the theatre.

Multi-award-winning playwright Frances Poet has taken a subject which is, sadly, so often in the news, and hit every parent squarely between the eyes with it.

How to keep your child safe, sometimes even from yourself, is something all parents must agonise over, not only in today’s climate, but with so many historic abuse cases coming to light.

When trusting granny Morven allows a stranger to take her three-year-old grandson Joshua to the toilet in a cafe while she pays for their food, she sets off a chain of events which not only have far reaching consequences for her and her family but will also have every parent in the audience questioning themselves.

The title refers to the gut feelings Morven says she has always been able to trust; it also refers to the feelings Maddy, Joshua’s mother, ‘who grew him in her gut’, thinks she has towards everyone she comes across after the event. Is she right? Will we ever know?

Despite a simple set, a small cast and invisible children, we are totally drawn into the world of Maddy, her husband Rory, and young Joshua.

Kirsty Stuart and Peter Collins are so natural as Maddy and Rory; there’s an easiness between them as, at first, they are fun-loving and flirtatious, but when paranoia sets in the tension between them is raw and palpable. While Lorraine McIntosh, sometimes singer with Deacon Blue, is believably hurt and bewildered as the erring granny.

The final member of the cast, George Anton, is to be praised for his versatility. Not only does he play The Stranger, he also turns up in seven other roles, from a police officer and a charity worker to someone stoned on cannabis. But is he always the good guy?

There are fleeting references to Jimmy Savile and Gary Glitter, which add to the realism, and Lego bricks strewn across the floor conjure up a world which is broken, while I like the way Kai Fischer lights a doorway to create menace.

There are lighter moments too. We get to learn about a three-year-old’s toileting, and a musical toy gives the cast a break in their dialogue.

Frances Poet takes us on a journey which had me, at one stage, recoiling in horror, but in director Zinnie Harris’s hands, the world premiere of this work, commissioned by the National Theatre of Scotland as part of its new writing intitiative with the Tron and the Traverse, runs like clockwork and is a work of art.


Gut is at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh until May 12


Box office: 0131 228 1404




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