It didn’t take me long into this show to realise two things: that this as clearly a piece of community theatre and should be recognised as such and that there is clearly something more going on here than just a fun trip to the Fringe. Bee Productions
This is a cast of real people. These are your neighbours, mothers, siblings and friends and that’s exactly what I feels like to watch.
On the surface it’s a pretty simple format. A series of drink related vignettes, different families and individuals, coping with the various degrees of destruction caused by alcoholism, tied together with original music and songs. We meet characters that we are familiar with: the group of drunks on a park bench, the upper class woman who is in denial of her problems, the busker who has seen it all pass by. This is topped and tailed by the story of a mother who is struggling to keep herself and her family together, as she doesn’t know how to find the help she needs. With songs that tell us “it could happen to anyone” and that tell us about the “pink cloud” of finally finding an escape into sobriety, this is a show with a strong point to make.
This is a cast of real people. These are your neighbours, mothers, siblings and friends and that’s exactly what I feels like to watch. This is far from a professional production but when you stop having that as your expectation you leave yourself open to seeing what they are trying to do. Yes it has a certain educational more than entertaining quality to it: indeed I found myself thinking ‘this could be perfect to tour round schools’. However upon speaking to producer Claire Bee I discovered that this is exactly where this piece has stemmed from: this play was written as part of an outreach programme for a Dundee based recovery centre, Jericho House. Suddenly upon hearing this, it all makes a lot more sense. Claire herself plays the part of the struggling mother fantastically, and it's clear to the entire audience her vested interest and first-hand experience with the subject in hand. As she steps forward at the end to dedicate the show to a friend of hers, suffering from alcoholism who can’t be there, the emotion from both cast and the audience spills over. It’s impossible to ignore.
Do I think this is ‘musical comedy’? No. Do I however see why these people need to add a little light heartedness into what they are doing? Absolutely. I found some of the songs a little superfluous and just wish, with all my heart, that they had made it a little bit more clear where they are coming from from the outset, instead of waiting right until the end.
Despite any flaws, it's so great that the Fringe offers a platform to groups like this to say what they want to say. If this can then also bring support to communities in Scotland at the same time, that’s a fantastic achievement for this cast and something to be really proud of.