Review: In for a Penny at Gilded Balloon Teviot

Energetic and enigmatic, Libby McArthur holds the audience in the palm of her hand in this one-woman play, recounting her tale of hardship, hilarity and unpaid parking fines.

Her real-life experiences are paired with David Cosgrove’s writing to bring together a story that proves how easily a life can be flipped upside down by rogue circumstances.

The use of colloquial Scots helps to bring this production from strength to strength in a display of home-grown writing done exceptionally well. The delivery is not to be sniffed at either – McArthur shines brighter than the stage lights, flitting between comedy and vulnerability almost seamlessly as she weaves her tapestry of events in front of the audience’s eyes.

The women McArthur brings to life from the holding cells of Glasgow’s Sheriff Court are a mix of what our tough-on-crime Tory-dom would label ‘degenerates’ – working girls, shoplifters and fine-dodgers – all who get quite the shock to see a famed soap star in their loo-roll-less confinement. What ensues is a strengthening display of female solidarity under these harshest of circumstances, a presentation of the sheer humanity and emotion of these supposed ‘criminals’. McArthur wonders aloud that she may share their holding cell, but these women don’t share her privileged upbringing, one of love and support rather than abuse and uncaring children’s homes. They’ve been failed by the system at every turn and In for a Penny reminds its audience that, under different circumstances, they too could have shared in the trajectory of these ‘fallen’ women. Prison bars are ever merely inches away – especially if you grow up without the support network that many of us are accustomed to.

For Libby McArthur it took 6 unpaid parking tickets to fully realise her own privilege. Hopefully audiences of In for a Penny will walk away changed without the need to spend time behind bars.

In for a Penny, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Aug 1-27 (not 13), 2.45pm

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