‘The Queen of Lucky People’ (Traverse: 29 April – 3 May ’14)

Eileen Nicholas as Patrice French Photo: Lesley Black

Eileen Nicholas as Patrice French
Photo: Lesley Black

‘Patrice’s impish tittle-tattle lands her in some embarrassing shite.’

Editorial Rating: Nae Bad

The last in the Traverse’s very welcome A Play, a Pie and a Pint season.

A venetian blind is prone to twitch not tweet. Anyhow, it provides the tell-tale keeking backdrop to The Queen of Lucky People, without doubt set in a tenement flat near you.

Patrice French, clerical officer, retired, lives there, which might just be the cheap end of Kelvin Drive, G20, or off the Warriston Road, EH7; either way, close enough to really notice the neighbours and to go out once in a while for a walk by the river. Not that Patrice gets out much as she prefers to be in the immediate vicinity of her laptop, spending cushioned hours within her social network of choice, ‘Lucky People’.

She has the site’s language at her fingertips. She tallies ‘Awesomes’, ‘LOLs’, and ‘Friends’ –  they’re ‘Buddies’ on ‘Lucky People’ –  with mounting glee and notes her “Record!” stats with pride. A euphoric Third-Age experience or late onset OCD? Regardless, out of sight and careless, Patrice pushes out her gossipy posts. She does not answer the phone and the blind is kept down.

Writer Iain Heggie gives Eileen Nicholas as Patrice many a winning line of solo banter. Laughs are frequent (and a little easy?) when you give an elderly character the energy and the assurance of the hip and snappy catchphrase. The script is at its best when, through the piece, Patrice’s impish tittle-tattle lands her in some embarrassing shite. You will be pleased to see how Marigold Extra-Life kitchen gloves and doggie bags, off, do the business.

It is a redemptive tale. You might argue that Patrice is a better person for having discovered – and thrown out – the troll within. Certainly Nicholas’ sure and appealing performance is of a lonely woman who is happier and kinder at the end. Sympathetic direction by Emma Callander and focused design by Patrick McGurn combine to lift a bright but brittle character into a companionable place. And so the blind goes up.

My only problem, and quite possibly mine alone, was that I could not get Alan Bennett’s A Woman of No Importance and the other Talking Heads out of my head. It is actually to compliment Iain Heggie that the thought of Bennett’s Miss Schofield (Patricia Routledge) with a lap-top is so alarming. Patrice, though, is the more forgiving creation. More of a quiche person, than a pie eater.

 

nae bad_blue

Reviewer: Alan Brown (Seen 1 May)

Visit The Queen of Lucky People homepage here.