Near perfect in technical terms, the impact of Gregory Thompson’s first production as the Tron’s new Artistic Director is reduced only by the complexities in the depth of Grae Cleugh’s script. Here, in the month of the Holyrood elections and tercentenary of the Act of Union, nothing less than the future of Scotland is being portrayed.
Lisa Sangster’s open design creates an Edinburgh New Town drawing room which, in its details and surround of grass and water, echoes the Scottish parliament at Holyrood. In the opening scenes, an electric cast depict the evening when Claire returns home, after a post-degree summer away with her new boyfriend Paul, to Tom, a government minister at Holyrood, and his wife Jane.
Hilton McRae gives just the right mix of laconic intelligence, political smarm and vicious instinct in Tom. Juliet Cadzow works with well-judged understatement to both enhance his character and build her own, as professional political wife, Jane. If their response to Grae Cleugh’s Paul is predictable, both as surprise putative son-in-law and in his well-finessed nationalist leanings, their relationship to Claire, meticulously created by Claire Dargo, is thrown upside down when her kiss with Tom suddenly becomes overtly sexual.
The kiss, or rather what it symbolises with its commensurate impact on how Tom and Claire’s relationship is perceived, lifts the production above both the mundanely domestic and the tritely political. Yet that and Claire’s other relationships are not developed enough to either clarify what is a muddled political expression or provide the final decisive twist in a domestic drama.