Front Page News and Fabulous Reviews

Shetland Times Review : Powerful Play Lifts the Lid on Family Life

It was almost a full house for the opening night of Parking Lot in Pittsburgh, a powerful play convincly portrayed by Islesburgh Drama Group.

The play, written by Anne Downie, started with the intriguing scene of the central character, Maggie, participating in her own funeral from an open coffin - a delicious opportunity to say what she really things. For the elderly Maggie has returned to live with her family in Scotland, at their invitation, after spending her adult life in America. But where is home, and what are families for? If Maggie expected a nest of love she actually found a knot of vultures in her four ghastly sisters, waiting to get their hands on the money from her property, the parking lot in Pittburgh.

The play lifts the lid on family life and touches on the weighty themes of old age, rejection, greed, entitlement, a sense of place and lost love, but it is done with a light touch, making the play moving, but not tear-jerking. Indeed it is often hilariously funny, thanks to the Glaswegian banter of the four sisters, brilliantly carried off by the cast.

Their hypocrisy, only too familiar is typical. Maggie looks old, they say as she emerges from the plane, but then they gush: "You look well".  The sisters each have their own story, but it is the strong and sympathetic character of Maggie, well played by Izzy Swanson, complete with Scottish-American accent, that dominates.

The unflattering hairdo and clothes from another era highlight the fact that the culture in Scotland has moved on since her day - pizzas, kebabs and line dancing are now the fashion. Maggie struggles with her family, who appear as harpies in her ngithmares, rare well done, with clever scene changes from darkness to light with changes of clothes. And the Greek chorus of the sisters, speaking on the sid-lines is most effective and an imaginative touch, menacing but funny.

The music matches the action with the wishful Somewhere Over the Rainbow mirroring the early and later stages of Maggie's life and the marching Battle Hymn of the Republic accompanying her when armed with the "ammunition" she needs to fight her corner. 

The play comes full circle and has a satisfying ending. It was expertly produced and directed by Stanley Manson and comments from the audience on leaving provided that all thought it had been excellent.

Rosalind Griffiths