Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

South Bend

Platform, Gilded Balloon and tour

7th July-22nd September 2018

Grid Iron’s 2017 Fringe offering was Martin McCormick’s autobiographical play, reflecting on a disastrous relationship he had with an American woman when he was a student. South Bend muses on our obsession with US culture, and the love-hate relationship we have with them, and they with us.

Performed by Martin and the incredible Jess Chanliau who played 25 different characters, including America herself, South Bend was underscored by the live foley of David Pollock, who also played the nagging voice of doubt inside Martin’s mind.

In 2006 Martin McCormick flew across the Atlantic to be reunited with a woman he had fallen passionately in love with, a California Girl. But she’s changed. Completely. She’s in Indiana now, not California. With her step-mum who hates the British. Almost as soon as he’s arrived he’s on the road again, penniless and desperate to get home to Scotland.

South Bend is a tale of hope, of love, of a small country and a vast one, of a good Samaritan and a relationship gone bad.

Neil Cooper, The Herald

McCormick relays his personal odyssey in Ben Harrison’s production in a Ted-talk style presentation that’s full of charm and bonhomie. With Jess Chanliau playing all the other parts and live Foley work by David A. Pollock, McCormick seems to have survived his stateside excursion and lived to tell a very lively tale.

Allan Radcliffe, The Times

That the material is presented in Ben Harrison’s production for Grid Iron in the form of a TED talk, complete with video clips and sound effects created by Foley artist David A Pollock, is an ingenious touch, at once drawing us in and providing an element of distance to the at-times uncomfortable material. The format also allows a wry commentary on “confessional” theatre, itself a gift to the world from Uncle Sam. When Martin repeatedly tells his audience to trust him, we know that elements of his story should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Mark Brown, Sunday Herald

McCormick (who is typically charming and watchable) tells this tale with the assistance of his impressive, Franco-American co-star Jess Chanliau (who plays a host of characters with tremendous energy and humour). David Pollock creates the soundtrack live on designer Claire Halleran’s set, a deliberate clutter of Americana mixed with a young, working-class Scotsman’s notion of domesticity. Lewis den Hertog provides fine video work which helps give the production a sense of momentum.

Claire McVay, The List

A cringe-tastic tale of long-distance love gone wrong. From the moment performer and writer Martin McCormick steps onto the stage and begins to tell his break-up story, most of the audience has already decided they’re on his side. His character is one of those rare, loveable adolescents, who you can’t help but sympathise with as he falls in and out of love for the first time…McCormick switches seamlessly between narration and portraying his younger self, while Jess Chanliau does well to act every other character, from McCormick’s disturbed girlfriend to her neurotic mother. This is all underscored by the live foley artist David Pollock – he’s so good you don’t really notice him until McCormick sends a hilarious torrent of abuse his way. Grid Iron clearly had a lot of fun with this piece; setting a fast pace, they garner plenty of laughs through McCormick’s wry cultural observations, but also through his increasingly desperate situation. There are a few poignant moments, but it never gets too serious. This unpretentious play immerses its audience in the nostalgia of young love and the early Noughties, only resurfacing as the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign is switched off, and McCormick lands safely back on Scottish soil.