A one-man show scheduled for over an hour and a half can be a daunting prospect for both performer and audience. Yet by the end, it was only the stamina of the performer that was drained as the audience eagerly lapped up his words. ‘Gotcha!’ follows the lives of eight characters in Glasgow, principally the lives of traffic warden Ernie and his soldier grandson. Throughout the play, issues of Scottish society are raised, focusing mainly on booze and the war in Afghanistan but occasionally branching to look at things like the NHS and football sectarianism.
The play proudly advertises itself as being essentially Scottish and initially this filled me with misgivings as I feared whether ‘Scottish culture’ might be interpreted as a few colloquialisms and a couple of accents. Yet it does actually manage to pull this off without relying on a brand of nauseating patriotism; instead the decision to examine several very flawed characters presents an image that is at the same time believable, interesting and not particularly rose-tinted. Some of these characters are not to be sympathised with and the actor’s portrayal very successfully manages to damage the views his characters are spouting rather than seeming to promote them.
The same actor also manages to pull off playing both male and female characters without any sense of farce. When a wig and a handbag are put on or a burka is donned, it seems to be treading the line of being ridiculous, but the monologues that follow are possibly some of the most serious and heart-wrenching of the play.
Costume changes in a one-man show are always going to be a bit awkward and this is no exception, though it is clear much time and effort has been put into making the costumes as quickly changeable as possible. All in all, Gotcha! is a solid show that, though perhaps slightly long considering a slow start, thoroughly managed to capture the imagination of its audience and present often overused topics like Afghanistan and alcohol in a new, refreshing way.