The play is written in Byrne’s own Paisley tongue, giving an honest portrayal of the life of a Slab Boy.
There is regular use of Scot’s language, with characters threatening to
skelp one another
on the nut and
slice your beans off. The richness of the language adds humour and rhythm to the play. It can amuse, sadden and engage the audience all at once.
There are also references to Scottish culture, such as Spanky’s metaphorical description of Lucille as
The thrupenny in the dumpling. This portrays her as a prize - referring to the Scottish tradition of baking a coin into a cake to bring luck and wealth to the guest who found it.
The protagonist, Phil, delivers a series of monologues which reveal the hardships he has faced and his aggressively dark side. His final rant to Alan consists of a series of questions which highlight the stark differences between the characters’ lives:
What do you know about living in a rabbit hutch with concrete floors and your old man’s never in and you’re left trying to have a conversation with a TV set and a maw that thinks you’re St. Thomas Aquinas?
Each question builds the tension of the scene and climaxes with Phil lunging at Alan, threateningly informing him that
I know where I'd like to cut you.
Phil’s closing monologue is more humorous, and he assumes the character of a wealthy man, parodying the upper classes before facing the reality of his day. He closes his monologue, and the play with a hopeful thought that suggests Phil will continue to pursue his ambitions;
Giotto was a Slab Boy!