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{Hand and kilt} Kilt
By Jonathan Wilson
Directed by Andy McKim
Starring Maja Ardal, Paul Braunstein, Deborah Lambie, and Gerard Parkes
Played at the Tarragon Theatre, April 13-May 21, 1999
Review by Michael Cottrell

"What colour is your sky, Mary?" --Esther

kilt The light opens on Tom, (Paul Braunstein) bare-chested and kilted. The squeal of bag pipes fills the air. Tom moves traditionally to the music. The rhythm changes and suddenly the highland fling is flung. Tom wearing his grandfather's kilt is a dancer in a gay bar.

Kilt is an absolutely wonderful play. The energy of the first scene is carried right through to the end of the play.

Tom being a Scot, learned the dance from his mother Esther(Maja Ardal) Esther is something else. One wants to really believe that there is no mother on this planet like Esther but at the same time we all know her.

Esther convinces her son to accompany her, although reluctantly, back to Scotland to bury her father. The personality and characters of mother and son are such that they contentiously collide with each other. Mother and son talking there way through their interactions becomes funnier and funnier.

The family becomes crazier when the duo arrives in Scotland and stays with Esther's sister Mary (Deborah Lambie). Mary reminds her sister, that "there are nutters up and down the family tree"

Intertwined with the humour of the story is a touching back drop of "Da" Mac, the father, the one who's grandson dances in his kilt.

Kilt is an uncomplicated story. There is no major lessons to be gleamed from it. It is a play that will simply take you away into laughter and sweet remembering.

The play works on three levels. It works and is a good play because it is well written. Jonathan Wilson who also wrote My Own Private Oshawa strings together words and phrases that are funny and realistic. Esther walks across the stage tired and exasperated from a long delayed plane trip and she says to her sister "Mary, it's been a long life." The humour of it all catches one off guard and the character is built. Esther is tired not just from the trip but from life.

Kilt's script is held together by four superb actors. Gerard Parkes plays the part of David. Paul Braunstein plays two characters, that of Tom and his grandfather Mac. Paul's presentation is such that the scene smoothly flows from one character to the next, all by the change of the accent. Maja and Deborah are convincing as sisters, all be it nutty sisters but they are convincing. Maja has the ability to push her character of Esther to the limit to the point she almost becomes a caricature, but she holds in line to remain embarrassingly human.

The staging lends strength to the play. There is one set and yet through sound, lights and stage blocking the tale travels from North Africa 1942, Glasgow Scotland and even Hamilton Ontario.

Kilt is a fantastic feast of comedy that tells a simple tale simply. Of course when there is a kilt being warn, one always wonders what is worn underneath the tartan?It is certainly a must see play.

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