Horse McDonald in Careful
Gilded Balloon at the Museum (venue 64)
The first thing to note for those of you who are Horse fans is that this show falls in the Theatre, not Music category. Yes, she sings but be prepared for only a few bits and pieces of songs even though the show bears the same title, Careful, as one of her hits. But it’s no less spellbinding for all that.
It’s autobiographical and beginning with her childhood in Lanark, she shares her journey with us of the confusing and intense struggles facing a lassie in small town Scotland in the 60s and 70s who knows, and shows, herself to be “different”. It was a difference that, among other things, emboldened the local policewoman to shout “Lezzie” at her as she walked down the street, a woman on a train to sit beside her and cajole her into an appointment at the hospital and doctors of various specialisations to attempt their form of “treatment”. Thank God they all fail – thanks in no small part to the sanctuary of her bedroom where she wrote songs, adored David Cassidy, and used her music “to cry out to the universe for love.”
We learn too that even when the future began to look bright with a record-deal and songs about to break big, a problem with her vocal chord silenced her again. But she came back stronger than ever – and that is one of the themes of this simple but inspirational show: find your voice and use it.
Even though the set is sparse, just two cozy, old armchairs and a photograph of her parents, we are convincingly transported through time and space and by the end we are all cheering for her at the Royal Albert Hall.
Written and directed by two bright lights of Scottish theatre, Lynn Ferguson and Maggie Kinloch respectively, the show delivers something for everyone: for fans, a chance to spend time up close and personal with a fave musician; and for those unfamiliar with Horse, it’s a well-acted and touching story of survival that everyone can – and did – stand and cheer for.