Other characters

Granny

Granny represents the plight of the elderly. She is shunted between Maggie and Lizzie’s house and is a burden to the family.

Maggie treats her like one of her bairns: cut oot the music Granny, ma heid’s splittin. Time you wis in yer bed. Aware of her lack of purpose, we often see her whining and rocking and wishing her time away Oh, it’s time I wisna here!

Granny allows us insight into other characters. Isa treats her with disrespect and Lizzie is only interested in her money – both characters that do not engender sympathy from the audience.

Granny also offers moments of comic relief. When Maggie is hurt at Lily’s reaction to her new hat, Granny provides a diversion by dropping her biscuit into her tea. While providing humour it also reveals a perceptiveness which is hidden by her caricatural posturing.

The neighbours

Mrs Wilson, Mrs Bone and Mrs Harris act as a Greek chorus in the play. They are not part of the Morrison household and yet they flit in and out of it helping with Granny, giving commentaries on the events while also bringing the outside world into the setting – for instance they bring the news of the collapse of Alec’s flat.

They represent the community of the tenements and how folk would lend a hand one minute and gossip about you the next.

When Lily gives Maggie gloves for Christmas, Mrs Wilson whispers they cost only "a bob the pair in Woollies", which is a snide remark, and yet in the same scene she expresses genuine concern for Bertie.

All three women are married to men who exist off stage, and it is implied that they too have difficult lives to which they return.

Mrs Harris’s husband enters in Act III by thudding on the door and shouting through it Is ma wumman there? Well, tell her tae get the Hell oot o it. I’m wantin some atten-shun – to a modern audience this is almost comic, Neanderthal behaviour, but, despite her insistence that she is in charge, she still goes to him. Do these neighbours then have the right to criticise the Morrisons?

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