Coming Clean: Barbara
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Mar 4-9, 2019
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
‘Coming clean; Barbara’ is a solo piece written by the award winning writer Alma Cullen, this being the fifth in a series written for Oran Mor. Wendy Seager as Barbara takes us on an intense emotional journey, conjuring up a whole series of conversations as her story unfolds. The set, neat and professional with a desk and a hat stand combines with her smart blue jacket to give us an idea of her smart lifestyle and acquaintances. In sharp contrast to the emotional turmoil that is about to be revealed.
The show opens with Barbara opening her heart to the audience, her voice full of emotion and despair. The momentum never flags as she recalls one dialogue after another, piecing together the catastrophe that has happened in her life. The lights would dim as she comes to the end of one section, only to immediately light up the solitary figure again as she recalls something else. Even the moments of silence afford no respite, just a moment for reflection before we are yet again reeled in. When she converses with her husband Andy, a senior policeman, and her son Gavin, she reflects on love, kisses, fondness, despair, reality. Things were good before they went very awry. She becomes sadder and sadder, focusing all her energy on events that seem to have become too much for anyone to bear. Events that, as a wife and mother she can only watch from the side-lines as life becomes surrounded by the law and the consequences of breaking it.
Her lawyer, Mr Maxwell is almost her salvation, at times breaking through her grief, but ultimately failing because it seems limitless. The priest Eric is no comfort and drives her to go over and over the case by herself. We follow her conversation with Andy as she manages to talk to him in a clear voice and takes us in the imagination to the courthouse where he is convicted of a sexual offense and sentenced to 3 years in jail and a permanent sex offender licence. She falls apart; her voice growing high and urgent as she becomes more and more upset and breaks down before us, weeping on her knees. Barbara tries to hug Andy’s memory close, to remember the scent of him. But in the end her anger and despair only grow as she comes out with all the revelations of what happened and acknowledges the personal sacrifice she has been asked to make. Coming clean indeed. This is a wonderfully sweet, concerning, in-depth piece of writing and acting. Yet another reason to turn up at the Oran Mor on a Monday and sign on for an hour on the roller coaster of entertainment.