Dusty Won’t Play
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Play, Pie, Pint (1pm)
Dusty Won’t Play is an explosively brilliant start to Oran Mor’s 2017 Play, Pie & a Pint season. Completely sold out, I was forced to sit at the back of the room on the bar itself, which at least let me for the first time truly acknowledge the excellent acoustics of the theatre – I could hear everything in pinpoint precision. The play is the brainchild of literary legend Annie Caulfield, a composite blend of Dusty’s best tunes (sung with entrancing impeccability by Frances Thorburn) & Springfield’s fateful tour of South Africa in 1964. Donning a good blonde wig, slapping the eyeliner on thick & singing some cracking numbers, in 1964 Dusty was a rising star & was just about to reach international fame – tho’ not in a war she would ever have wondered growing up in the back streets of Ealing.
The timing of this play is karmic: where Donald Trump in America is causing cultural schisms, so in 1964 apartheid & racial segregation were raging wildly in South Africa. Just as our speaker of the house, John Bercow, has stood up against Trump’s bullying, so did Dusty refuse to play to all-white audiences. The chief drama of the play revolves against the bullying of the SA authorities – house arrest, threatening behaviour – & Dusty’s resolve to stand in defiance against them. The music was brilliant: Springfield’s ‘band,’ The Echoes, consisting of Simon Donaldson & Kevin Lennon, played guitar & piano along to Thorburn’s miraculous, almost shamanic renditions of classic motown numbers – it was almost as if Dusty was back in the room. At only one point did the music blend with the theatre, when Dusty sang ‘You Don’t Own Me’ to an overheavy SA policeman (played also by Donaldson), but this little slice of cheese really set off the trimming-laden quarter-pounder served up alongside the pies & the pints. Brilliant.
Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen