REVIEW: In Time O Strife, Citizens Theatre

We open with a joyous occasion of singing, laughing and dancing. It’s impossible to stop your toe from tapping or avoid a smile from spreading across your face as actors mingle on stage in an intimate town hall setting. But as the house lights go down and the action begins, it’s clear that we’re destined for a show of pluck, wit, strength and emotion.

Graham McLaren’s adaptation of Joe Corrie’s little known play is a beautiful fabrication of Corrie’s original script with additional poems set to music or delivered with dynamic unity. Tackling the subject of the middle class struggle in the midst of a harsh seven month miners strike, In Time O Strife resonates with many as a powerful play of both despair and hope, the fascinating choreography conveying a compelling anguish that touches the heart.

This heart-rending emotion is central to Tom McGovern’s performance as Tam, his final scenes deeply moving and memorable. Anita Vettesse gives a gorgeously poignant performance as Jean; loving and caring whilst also fiery and ardent. The Shilling a Week Band, too, are in superb form, led by Jenny Reeve’s excellent vocals.

This thrilling adaptation of In Time O Strife is a testament to Scottish theatre – both the sadly forgotten work of the past and the fantastic success of the present. Full of anger and grit, Corrie’s play is hugely inspiring and thought provoking, an exquisite insight to days gone by and almost completely forgotten.

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