As promised, a review of the play ‘Shang-A-Lang’ which, as of present, is still touring Scotland until mid-October.
As soon as anyone sees the title, ‘Shang-A-Lang’, there is no avoiding that catchy tune from the Bay City Rollers. As it happens, the play of the same name is also one not to avoid. It is penned by Catherine Johnson, who previously wrote the hit musical ‘Mamma Mia’ – and there are echoes of that here.
However, ‘Shang-A-Lang’ is a play. And a rooted Scottish one at that. Though it’s the characters and dialogue that make it so Scottish. The three central female characters are Pauline (Lyn McAndrew), Jackie (Val Gogan) and Lauren (Julie Duncanson). On the surface, they are fortysomething girls recapturing youth and memories on a fun-filled ’70s revival weekend at Butlin’s.
As the story goes along, it becomes clear the characters each have a lot of baggage. Lauren is rarely away from alcohol, Jackie’s marriage is less-than-honest and lovesick Pauline is vainly always in search of her Woody!
As a precursor, the play advises there’s very strong language and nudity – this isn’t so much a warning as a mission statement almost! The signposts for them aren’t always clear until you’re already laughing at them! The humour is close to the knuckle, but the untangling of each character and the mixture of songs ensures it’s a great watch. Certainly by the end of the play, this reviewer was one of the mass audience’s boogie and clapping club.
A further twist is in the set changes – the people who regularly appear to switch the setting are characters themselves. They don’t say much, but keep a keen eye on them as they provide some laughs too.
So, ‘Shang-A-Lang’… a song, a play and a chance to laugh out loud with a Scottish touch! It’s not for the easily offended, but it is a great story.