Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Two Sore Legs, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Susan Mansfield.
This deft one-woman play begins with a funeral. But even the prospect of death doesn’t phase Bridie, irrepressible mother-of-six, who sets off to the undertakers in her fur coat and patent shoes and pays for her coffin with a roll of banknotes.
Playwright Brenda Murphy wrote Two Sore Legs about her own mother, who had six children with a married man in 1950s Belfast and raised them alone in the face of grim disapproval.
She is gloriously realised on stage by actress Maria Connolly, who is superb in her ability to convey a range of emotions all the while keeping up the unrelenting pace of the play.
Bridie comes of age at the beginning of the 1950s and falls in love with Liam, a merchant seaman. But just when the future is looking bright, she finds out that Liam is married with a child. That doesn’t stop her falling pregnant five times (once with twins), to the fury of her father and the condemnation of the parish priest. But she manages, nevertheless, to raise her children to adulthood, and see them do her proud with families of their own.
Though the play is delivered to us entirely in Bridie’s voice, Murphy manages to give us a sense of her own – much more ambivolent – attitude, particularly her anger towards her father, whose motivations are never fully explored.
But Bridie is a towering character, a one-time Butlins redcoat who holds on to her sense of humour and her zest for living, puncturing the hypocrisy of those around her.
Though she faces more than her fair share of tragedies, her story is a celebration of motherhood and family and the value of looking on the bright side.
Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17) until 31 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 26 August 2015
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