POLARISATION is rife in our society, particularly when it comes to politics, and PenPal Productions is giving audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe a stark reminder of the importance of respect and tolerance in an increasingly self-indulgent world.

For Better, For Worse – written by Jill Franklin – is set in the final days leading up to the 2014 Scottish independence referendum and tells the story of a family who are caught up in more than just an argument about Yes or No. 

The play starts with children Natalie and Mark visiting their mum Diane to celebrate her first birthday since her husband – and the children’s father – died, but what should’ve been a pleasant get-together quickly descends into an intense shouting match between the siblings over the referendum.

There are several scenes throughout the show that play out like this; Diane trying to move on with her life and start dating other men, which generally gets interrupted by either her children’s political bickering or them sticking their noses in her private life as they continue to try and come to terms with losing their dad.

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Mark O’Neill and Erin Elkin’s performances are tremendous with their arguing at points being painful, leaving you feeling as if you want to stand up and tell them to stop, so effective is their delivery. Their stubbornness and constant refusal to listen to each other is reflective of what we see playing out in politics every day, with reasonable debate now ancient history it sometimes seems.

Sheila Duncan, meanwhile, has a real standout moment in a one-way conversation with her deceased husband when she goes through the five stages of grief in a just a few minutes before resolving to live her life the way she wants to, finally. Anyone who has lost the love of their life will find themselves very moved by this captivating piece of acting.

The interweaving of the referendum and the family’s story is really thought-provoking and, gradually (and it is gradual), we do see the siblings try to become more accepting of each other’s opinion and, indeed, their mother’s when it comes to her love life.

There are funny moments throughout the play, but one of the most amusing comes towards the end when neither Mark nor Natalie can find a device which will enable them to find out the result of the vote which, you guessed it, ends up in a fight.

Amid the humour though, that scene teaches us a lesson. It reminds us how ridiculous some of our arguments can be and how the world will keep turning no matter how much we throw ourselves into petty battles.

And the very last scene – when the family agree to be civil no matter the result – tells us to listen, agree to disagree, accept even if you cannot understand.

Franklin and an extremely talented trio of actors without a doubt succeed in getting across a vital message about family and politics, particularly as the debate over Scottish independence rages on.

For Better, For Worse will be on at C Venue 21, Roman Eagle Lodge, Johnston Terrace. August 13-27 at 3.50pm. Tickets £9-£13, concessions £7-£11, under-18s £5-£9. Tickets can be bought here.