Del Gesu’s Viola
A Play A Pie And A Pint
May 30th – June 4th
This play, written by Scottish veteran playwright and adaptor Hector MacMillan, (The Sash, Moliere’s The Misanthrope are two of his notable successes) and directed by Liz Carruthers, is the last in the spring season of A Play A Pie And A Pint.
The setting is a precognition hearing at a Procurator Fiscal’s office and opens with Elizabeth Flett paying a beautiful piece on viola. The Fiscal (Eileen Nicholas) is hearing the testimony of a plaintiff (Finlay Welsh) and the accused (Peter Kelly). At issue is a viola which the plaintiff has bought from the accused for £1,900 under the impression that it may very well be a priceless instrument crafted by Bartolemeo Giussepe Guarneri ( known as Del Gesu) of Cremona, Italy, in the 18th Century. The fact is that Del Gesu was never known to have ever made a viola, only violins, although, confusingly, this particular instrument is the size of a conventional violin. Guarneri’s violins sell for astronomical sums and are regarded by some as superior to the better known Stradivari.
Both the accused and his naturalised (and now deceased) Italian father have made violins as a hobby and the instruments, though not really worth much are well regarded for their beautiful sound.
The plaintiff, a trader in old and valuable instrument’s wants the price he paid reduced because he thinks he has been hoodwinked by the accused, even though he was quite happy to pay a pittance for what he believed to be a possibly priceless viola.
The Fiscal has the tricky job of deciding whether a prosecution should go ahead.
Hector MacMillan’s underlying issue in this piece was greed and why should the rich have possession of the best instruments, while perfectly good modern examples are relatively worthless? Many of the greatest instruments languish unplayed in safety deposit boxes and collections, steadily increasing in value as investment opportunities.
Although well acted, the basis of this piece was perhaps slightly insubstantial for those not really interested in the subject matter and without being too much of a pun, was very much a chamber piece with some moderately funny and thought- provoking twists. The beautiful sounding viola/violin in the play was, in fact, made by the playwright himself.
Reviewer : Dave Ivens
Script: Stagecraft: Performance: