God Bless Liz Lochhead follows three failing actors who attempt to stage an adaptation of Tartuffe, 25 years after a disastrous tour of that production brought chaos to all their lives. As budget issues compel the cast to strip out all but three of the characters, Danny Devine, the director and lead actor, decides that making a reality TV show of the rehearsal process would also be a good idea, much to the horror of his fellow cast members. Written as a hark-back to the 1980s when Scottish verse was all the rage, this is an adequate show for any local or visitor looking for home-grown drama.
I only wish it was a bit more dramatic. The performances are solid enough but the script is only mildly witty and when you reach the end you realise that not a lot happened before the disappointing ending. Sure, there are a few rekindled romances from that fatal tour a quarter of a century ago, a few amusing injuries as well as some more meaningful moments but all in all the tale leaves much to be desired. I lost count of how many times the words 'God bless Liz Lochhead' were uttered, which I found highly irritating. I also found the script to be very lazy in the way it gave you context. The characters would say things to each other that were obviously purely for the benefit of the audience. I do appreciate that a certain amount of context must be given but I found the delivery to be very unrealistic. Furthermore, character traits such as Emma's aggression or Danny's sexual desires came so out of the blue that I was rather taken aback and didn't fully believe them. There was also a completely unnecessary dropping of the C-bomb which was totally out of place. If, for some reason, they meant to shock me, they did not.
Juliet Cadzow delivers a poised and confident performance as Portia which made me sympathise with her the most. I enjoyed her dry and measured approach to the lines. The most touching moments are found in the desperation that these actors have to survive. For all the larking around there is a rather sad element that many at the Fringe will relate to and I believe this is where the play is strongest. Actors often have a depth to them that God Bless Liz Lochhead believes is not appreciated by many directors. So despite it's faults this is not a bad show; though glib it provides food for thought and is worthy of a punt.