Raspberry ***

Raspberry is a production that exists on two planes.  For fans of Ian Dury, it is a theatrical collage that puts a fun twist on his life and art.  However, those unaware of Dury will see a musical heavy on energy and creativity but light on coherence.

Rita is a young woman who lost the ability to walk due to a bout with polio.  The majority of the production follows her conversations between two parties: her father, who diligently works with iron to allow his daughter to walk again, and an eclectic band that may or may not exist that is comprised of people who may or may not be who they say they are.

In truth, the plot is inconsequential.  What really matters is the music, which is almost always great, and the ensemble, all of whom perform with full gusto.  Christine Bruno is quite good as Rita and the ensemble each have fun playing both instruments and funky roles (even if most of their music-making is better than their acting).

But it is Garry Robson who’s the real stand-out.  His character Spasticus is a huge force the moment he comes out, musically great and always interesting, and Robson’s script and lyrics are consistently clever.  His ideas are also assisted by director Gordon Dougall, who creates some rather fun moments with his staging, and Leigh Sterling, who’s responsible for the music and additional lyrics.  Together, they have pieced together a production that, for want of a better word, is wholly original.

There is no denying the creative spark behind the production.  There is much to admire and the music is quite good, well-played and creatively performed.  But as it’s a high-concept love letter, one’s enjoyment and response will probably be determined by one’s knowledge, or ignorance, of Ian Dury and his art.

Originally written for Onstage Scotland.

Touring until May.


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