A Gambler’s Guide to Dying
8th-30th (not mondays)
£7 – £18
A Gambler’s Guide to Dying is written & performed by the one-man, up & coming theatrical behemeoth that is Gary McNair. Last year his sell-out ‘Donald Robertson is Not a Stand-Up Comedian‘ was pretty a damn fine piece of writing, which now seems more a part of McNair’s juvenilia when compared to this masterful & mature piece of stagerie. Directed by Gareth Nicholls, the theatre was again full & I took my seat before a no-expense spared set of mothball carpets & cardboard boxes. On entering in clothes clearly rifled from his grandpaw’s wardrobe, McNair invites us into the pre-millennium Gorbals of Glasgow, where life expectancy is low, drinking his hard, fights are harder & everyone likes a flutter. According to McNair, back in 1966 to avoid the grievous depressions that watching England win the world cup created north of the border, his grandpaw – Archie Campbell – placed an accumulator bet on the World Cup, citing England to win… & win he did, a small fortune that would eventually be laid on another bet later in life, to see if he could beat pancreatic cancer & live as long as the Millennium. Basically, the guy’s bucket-list was all about distracting his loved-ones from his inevitable & painful demise.
Archie was the kind of guy – or so he says – who would fall in the Clyde & spring up with a salmon in his mouth. His windfall at the age of 32 was the starting block for McNair’s examination of familial relationships, the fuzziness of memory-collation – the version of a version of a man – & the ancient rags-to-riches folk motif dearly loved by all. There was even a spot of the Aenied in an opening passage quite remarkable in such a young playwright, when as Aeneas entered the underground & looked forward to the Age of Augustus, so did McNair spin through his grandpaw’s post-win life with the same epic ease. A fantastic piece, that flows all warm & funny – if it would have had a couple of the later, perhaps superfluous scenes, cut out, it would have been an easy five stars, but in the end a very worthy FOUR STARS.
Reviewer : Damo Bullen