If You're Feeling Sinister: A Play With Songs
- Deborah Chu
- 6 August 2019
Heartfelt caper set to Belle and Sebastian's iconic album
Adapting a musical work to the stage is notoriously difficult to get right. Often there's a sense that the book gets written as mere set dressing to the songs, and this is particularly true when the source material is as well-known and highly regarded as If You're Feeling Sinister, the second album by Glasgow indie legends Belle and Sebastian. Luckily, Eve Nicol's take strikes the right balance between the two elements, crafting an original story with the substance to stand on its own, yet animated by the album's spirit.
If You're Feeling Sinister: A Play With Songs follows Boss and Kid, reeling from the high of having just stolen a painting from the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. Boss – an older, married academic – is soon guilt-ridden and decides he can no longer have anything to do with either the painting or Kid, a troubled young woman. The complex push-pull of their relationship is the play's main driver, as both acknowledge its impossibility yet struggle to disentangle themselves from each other.
Nicol's writing is excellent: quick, funny and full of Glasgow colour, while Stuart Murdoch's lyrics are well integrated into the plot ('Dylan at the Movies' is particularly apt as instructions for a getaway driver). However, certain elements of the story, particularly the art heist, feel underdeveloped, and the ending screeches to an abrupt halt that even the tender strains of 'Stars of Track and Field' cannot fully smooth over. A longer running time will likely solve these issues; with such a great soundtrack, few will object to lingering a while longer along the Clyde with Kid and Boss.
Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, until 26 Aug (12 Aug), 3.45pm, £16.50–£15 (£15.50–£14).