Fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe with a Fringe First Award from the Scotsman, John McCann’s short, snappy Spoiling is now showing at London’s own Theatre Royal Stratford East.
Set in the aftermath of the ‘yes’ vote of Scotland’s independence referendum, Spoiling is smartly-timed, peppered with dark humour and a sense of inevitability.
With the fantastic casting of Gabriel Quigley as First Minister Fiona and Richard Clements as Northern Irish aide Mark, this play is a sensational envisioning of post-apocalyptic (post-yes vote) Scottish politics in the hands of a modern woman. Staging is immediate, lighting that brightens with the intensity of a satirical slant on what’s about to happen. McCann’s writing is sudden and intelligently funny, laced with blatant sexism.
Fiona’s intense swearing and comedic timing solidifies the situation, turning it from grand ideas into a reality. Mark is more guarded, toeing the party line to avoid ‘career suicide’.
There’s an undeniable political message, though one isn’t quite sure which way it leans: is it mocking or championing Scotland’s desire and ability to be a sovereign state? Fresh and tasteful, this hour-long play lays a heavy gaze upon a never more relevant issue.
Contained within one room on the stage throughout, Spoiling is so real it’s almost history, or prophecy. Orla O’Loughlin’s direction displays an incredible grasp of political banter, so for the audience this is threatening, powerful, thought-provoking. Sublime performances from both actors make this a driven showcase of political and personal frustration and conviction.
Between the lines of party politics and patriotism, there are overarching themes of peace or dysfunction, quiet or protest, compromise or oppression.
A brave poke at a bear that sets the tone for a long-held breath before the referendum that will change history, McCann’s creation has integrity and spirit – let’s hope this is behind Scotland’s imminent decision.