Glasgow ’14 is a one man show, inhabiting the minds of four very different men and their experiences of mental illness. The backdrop is Glasgow 2014, and the events of the bin lorry crash at George Square. Impeccably delivered in possibly the most captivating and compelling performance I’ve seen at the Fringe, Neil Gwynne has the audience gripped immediately as he delivers the tortured inner thoughts of four men whose lives collide through this tragedy.
Beautifully acted, crafted storytelling, intimate and heartbreaking.
Neil Gwynne narrates this story, written by Sally Lewis, via the medium of 4 different accents. In this way, the audience follows the story of the Polish hot dog seller banished to Scotland for the acts of his father; the Yorkshire homeless veteran; the upper class English vicar; and Archie the Glasweigan. All 4 men have their own inner demons they battle - from PTSD to OCD, trouble sleeping, flashbacks, anxiety, panic attacks, depression and suicidal ideation. Their lives are suddenly and inextricably intertwined via the George Square bin lorry crash, as they all react in various ways to what they see happening around them. There is a real danger that such a topic could have been inappropriate and sensationalist; however Benet Catty has directed a show which is handled with care.
Male mental health is an oft-unmentioned issue, despite suicide being the biggest killer of males under 45 in the UK. This raw and poignant consideration of the people we potentially encounter in our everyday lives, and the mental anguish that transcends class, race and social status. It forces the audience to confront the unspoken words that may be lurking behind the eyes of those we love, or those relatively invisible. With a conclusion that shocks the audience, this is a bold, courageous and innovative performance.
My only fault of this production is that despite an amazing rendition of a Yorkshire, Polish and upper-class English accent, Gwynne’s Glaswegian accent is very East Coast. This is significant as the performance is based in Glasgow. A little more work on the accent, and this would easily be a five-star show, though it is nonetheless one not to be missed this year!