Review: Cuttin’ A Rug

Citizens Theatre
Until March 5th at Citizens Theatre
4 Stars (4 / 5)


Cuttin’ A Rug, directed by Caroline Paterson, is the second instalment of playwright John Byrne’s much-loved Slab Boys Trilogy, in which Phil (Ryan Fletcher) and Spanky (Paul-James Corrigan) and other members of the A. F. Stobo & Co. Carpet Factory attend the annual staff dance. The energy of the play is already hinted at in the title itself, with the phrase “cutting a rug” meaning to dance very well and impress others. In this production, amidst the conversations of desire and ambition, scene changes and moments are slickly woven together with movement director EJ Boyle’s jiving 50’s choreography underscored by the tunes of Elvis Presley blaring unabashedly throughout the theatre. In fact, there is almost never a still moment in this play. Words rock and roll off the tongue to raucous laughter.Anyone who is not from Scotland needs to brace themselves for the unstoppable stream of dialogue. Each actor brings an individuality to his or her character with such honesty in their portrayals despite the challenge of Byrne’s use of heightened language. Any jokes and quips are a perfect mixture of wit and slapstick, with crucial plot points and developments fluidly folding and building over one another.

The work of designer Kenny Miller is vibrant and is a perfect snapshot of the tough, rebellious, working-class culture of 1950s industrial Scotland. Cuttin A Rug, while having a strong Scottish spirit and backdrop, remains universally appealing. This play is a fantastic time capsule to those who experienced that dynamic era, and to anyone who wonders what it was like.