Cum­ber­nauld The­atre

The Scotsman - - Reviews - JOYCE MCMILLAN

IT’S an ob­serv­able fact that when chil­dren are young, their bod­ies don’t bother them, ex­cept when they’re hurt or ill; they think, play, and live in­tense in­ner lives that may be dis­turbed by ex­ter­nal events, but not by mes­sages from their own bod­ies.

Ado­les­cence, though, is when all that changes, as phys­i­cal sig­nals from the body be­gin to af­fect and trou­ble the mind, and young peo­ple have to learn to live with a new re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two. That mo­ment of change has rarely been bet­ter cap­tured –in all its ex­hil­a­ra­tion and dan­ger – than in John Lev­ert’s novel The Flight of the Cas­sowary, first pub­lished in Amer­ica in 1988, and beau­ti­fully adapted for the stage by Scot­tish play­wright Dou­glas Maxwell, in his 2006 play Man­cub.

Now, Cum­ber­nauld The­atre direc­tor Ed Rob­son has re­vived Man­cub in an aus­tere but vivid and pro­foundly sym­pa­thetic pro­duc­tion that fea­tures an out­stand­ing per­for­mance from Andy Pep­pi­ette as the cen­tral char­ac­ter Paul, with a su­perb Christina Gor­don as his mum, his girl­friend and a friendly dog, and David James Kirk­wood as his dad, his best friend and his foot­ball coach.

The story of Man­cub is of a boy whose re­sponse to the shock of ado­les­cence is to feel that he is be­com­ing an an­i­mal, or a whole range of an­i­mals; some­times vol­un­tar­ily, some­times un­able to help him­self. And although his ex­pe­ri­ence is ex­treme, and fi­nally dan­ger­ous, it is so pro­foundly rooted in uni­ver­sal teenage ex­pe­ri­ence that it touches the hearts and minds of young peo­ple and adults alike; in a show about the ex­pe­ri­ence of grow­ing up – and par­tic­u­larly of grow­ing up male - that should be more widely seen.

Gergely Madaras made his BBC SSO de­but with a Hun­gar­ian and Rus­sian pro­gramme

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