The Wee One

The Wee One starts with a scenario familiar enough from numerous television sitcoms – a couple well into middle-age who appear to be stuck with an adult child who has failed to fly the nest. Admittedly, it’s understandable why Danny (Alexander Staniforth) hasn’t yet moved out; his mum Marie (Catriona Joss) is still happy to iron his shirts, cook his meals and pick up after him – simply because he’s their youngest child. Dad John (Philip Rainford), meantime, has the habit of pointing out that this particular “wee one” is now a 33 year-old banker who thinks nothing of spending £200 on an meal, owns a BMW (parked next to John’s own nine-year-old, second-hand Nissan Micra) and believes that the occasional present (invariably bracelets for her and cuff-links for him – all “9 carat gold”) are sufficient compensation for treating the place like a hotel.

Rainford’s script, while arguably verging more towards “page 3 of the Women’s Realm” than anything more extreme, is witty, warm and provides director Adam Tomkins with a firm foundation for an engaging production

John’s frustration, however, lacks the oh-so-clever-clever spite of some sitcoms; Rainford, Joss and Staniforth present a family unit who clearly love each other despite everything. Arguably, the only extreme action that writer Philip Rainford provides is when John and Marie decided – on a whim – to rush away for a weekend at York Races, leaving Danny and his best friend Jenny (Emma McKenna) to fend for themselves with an uncooked steak and the realisation that the only phone number Danny has for his parents is their landline. (Regarding the former, their solution is to simply eat out; however, in “revenge” for leaving him in the lurch, Danny devises a way to kidnap his dad’s “ironic” garden gnomes – who then proceed to “send” John taunting postcards from around the world.

Admittedy, this subplot doesn’t appear to go anywhere; yet, when one of the garden gnomes is unceremoniously returned, The Wee One takes a more serious turn, with an event that alters the family dynamic forever. Danny – who we’ve been led to believe is the titular “Wee One” in this story – suddenly faces the inevitable switch in parent-child relationships.

The switch in tone is by no means an easy one, and the cast carry it off well, although the fact that Rainford suddenly starts addressing the audience in order to tell us about his early experiments in online dating and using “TubeFace”, while amusing enough, is still a slightly unfortunate exercise in tell-not-show. There’s some compensation, though, in seeing the growing relationship between John and Jenny’s widowed Aunt Geraldine (Wendy Barrett), which climaxes in a final scene set at the Glastonbury festival.

Rainford’s script, while arguably verging more towards “page 3 of the Women’s Realm” than anything more extreme, is witty, warm and provides director Adam Tomkins with a firm foundation for an engaging production which, despite its low-rent realities, still has something to say about old punks not wanting to fade away entirely.   

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Multiple Venues

Nests

★★★
Dundee Rep Theatre / Macrobert Arts Centre

The Yellow on the Broom

★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity

★★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

Police Cops in Space

★★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Rik Carranza: Still a Fan

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Marmite

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Written by Leith-based playwright Philip Rainford, The Wee One is a brand new tragic-comic play about life, love and rediscovery.

Joining Marie and John and their grown up son Danny, The Wee One is a heart-warming original story about the modern day challenges of their true-to-life situation. Following a sell-out run at Discover 21 Edinburgh in 2015, brand new company Theatre Imperative proudly presents this production as part of the 2016 Leith Festival.