Glasgow Live International Comedy Festival
Gary Little and Julia Sutherland: Jailmates
Cottiers Theatre, Glasgow
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As epistolary fiction is more than a little outdated (more often taking the form of emails or Tweets these days), it was interesting to note a "comedy of correspondence" in the listings for the Glasgow Live International Comedy Festival. To facilitate such a premise, there has to be a twist: letter writing, it seems, is the last bastion of comic communication for those receiving hospitality from Her Majesty's Prison Service.
Written and performed by local stand-up talent Gary Little and Julia Sutherland, it is a gentle meander with two characters - Gerry and Jenny - who have been dealt a less-than-ideal hand in their post-40 years. Gerry has been locked up for stealing books (a somewhat unusual crime) and Jenny is a newly-divorced mum who has been forced into moving back "home" to her parents (in thinly-veiled Newton Mearns).
Under the direction of Richard Melvin, Little has no problem in generating the laughs with his dead-pan delivery peppered with brief glimpses of a hidden high camp factor. His monologues of the Stag "do" ending up in Auschwitz and the Dance Your Depression Away class for inmates both seemed to have the best lines, leaving Sutherland's tales of woe about being naked in a hotel foyer seem a little lacklustre.
The dubious aspect of anyone checking out Jailmates.com for a future partner aside, the piece effectively explores the loneliness and self-imposed incarceration people can inflict upon themselves due to mental health. Where Sutherland shines is in her honest reflections of a woman who has learned to live with disappointment and thinks she doesn't deserve anything more from life. Ultimately, more tragedy than comedy.