If you are familiar with Scottish pop culture then the Broons family will need no introduction and now on their 80th birthday the Glebe Street family have broken out of newsprint and are taking to the stage.
The working -class, war-time family the Broons are a combination of characters. There’s the glue of the family Maw and Paw Broon, pipe-chugging Gran’Paw Broon, lanky Hen, boxer Joe, shy Daphne, beautiful Maggie, brainiac Horrace, the troublesome twins and youngest The Bairn.
Writer Rob Drummond and the Sell A Door production company have been clever in executing the transition onto screen so that all of the characters can be included.
The main plot centres around Maggie (Teacup Travels star Kim Allan) who has become engaged for the second time after leaving her first fiancé. Devastated and worried she’ll lose her purpose when her family flee the nest, with the best of intentions, Maw Broon (River City favourite Roshin, played by Joyce Falconer) attempts to sabotage all of their plans.
While the main plot centres around Maggie’s wedding, the sub-plots of the family intertwine almost as if a collective of the Sunday Post comic strips have been rolled into one show. And even though the family were founded in 1936, Drummond uses laugh-a-minute storylines which are relevant today including online dating escapades and Mars applications.
The family is brought to life by almost immaculate casting. Some familiar Scottish names from River City and Still Game. There is Paul Riley better known as Winston and Edith (Maureen Carr) as Paw Broon and Bairn, Kern Falconer as Granpaw Broon, John Kielty as Joe from River City and Laura Szalecki (The Real Hoosewives of Glesga) as a slightly younger-than-the-comics looking Daphne.
Joyce Falconer I would say is too young to play Maw Broon but her deep Aberdonian accent carries off the part perfectly. The biggest kudos I have to give Sell A Door theatre company for casting Alaskan actor Tyler Collins. His slim built and convincing accent were perfect for the part of Hen.
Perhaps the only let-down was casting adults to play the kid’s roles, it felt forced and the high-pitch child/and ‘me thinks’baby-talk was irritable for a show which was relatively safe in terms of content and could have been enjoyed by all the family.
The saving grace of these parts were the contribution to the overall Scottish songbook with the twins donning matching specks and singing The Proclaimers 500 Miles whilst the Bairn engaged the audience with a participatory rendition of Scots nursery rhyme Ally Bally Bee which I hadn’t sang in at least 20 years.
For someone who is perhaps unfamiliar with Scots slang (which the show did use a lot of) there was a handy dictionary in the programme to covert words and phrases into English.
It is rare to find such a family show that does not need to be inappropriate to churn out regular, hearty and throaty laughs like the way the Broons did. Well done to all for giving this piece of Scottish history the justice it deserves.