Sunday, 14 May 2017
by Mark Weinman
Dyl is a hallucinatory, kidulting comedy drama ambitious in concept, but clumsy in execution. James is a pent-up young oil rig worker in the once thriving oil-rich city of Aberdeen.
Earning good money, his life revolves around the "two weeks on, two weeks off" cycle of labouring on the rig, then returning from the sea to dry land.
This debut play of writer Mark Weinman attempts to mix different genres and marry them with modern pressures on a young man's psychic space.
So there's some odd couple humour with his Aberdonian flatshare, the physicality of his job is on display as well as the tentacles of the literary along with pop music, television and movies invading and wrapping themselves around the mind of a twenty something.
What emerges are some perfunctory, but still effective, laughs interspersed increasingly with still moments of visual anguish which work like televison close ups before an abrupt change of tone and the final reveal.
However this all feels very stretched out over the two-act play, with the plot points very far apart and various strategies used to fill in the gaps with issues parachuted in.
Lurking behind it all, Weinman has something worthwhile to say about our boom and bust era and a generation immersed in computers and screens.
This is reflected in the slick, click together set designed by Jemima Robinson, even if the play's jigsaw construction doesn't quite click together as fluently and feels clunky.
Director Clive Judd brings together two alumni of his enjoyable production of a 1960s' classic about pent-up young men, Scott Arthur as Welshman James in his own Never-Never Land and Laurie Jamieson as the Scottish office worker flatmate from whom he rents a room on shore.
Joyce Greenaway is James's Mum trying to build an emotional bridge for her son while Rose Wardlaw is an unexpected, wish-fufilment visitor who apparently allows the various pieces to be slotted neatly into place and gives a kind of deus-ex-machina closure.
Weinman has a clever idea that can equally be a surreal shorter play or several episodes of a sharply edited TV soap.
Nevertheless, in its present form it has a frustratingly unbalanced and laboured structure, overpowering a potentially more dramatic and poignant analysis of a generation within a shuttlecock economy.
Dyl (with apologies to a famous American children's classic) is a little play that could. At the moment though, while it shows off the ample abilities of its cast, it's an amber light.