Oran Mor, Glasgow
Aug 26–31 , 2019
It was great to be back at Oran Mor where the year celebrating 500 productions of A Play, A Pie and a Pint launched into its autumn season with Crocodile Rock, a new one-man musical by Andy McGregor. Darren Brownlie plays 17-year old Steven McPhail who introduces himself in song from his makeshift music studio. But this joyous beginning is something of a false start as young Steven found that life at home on the Isle of Millport was tedious, empty and downright boring. The stage was strewn with piles of boxes containing his possessions, giving you the impression of someone who was trying to make decisions about his life and how to live it. By the way, the music in this show was top notch, ably supported by the 2-man backing band of Gary Cameron (keyboard) and Gavin Whitworth (bass and guitar).
As the stories unfold in song, we learned about Steven’s adored mother and rather straight-laced father. We saw him going down to the beach to stare at Millport’s eponymous crocodile rock, which just reminded him of how detached he felt from his surroundings, and how much his soul longed for something different. All his ups and downs were expressed in the music as well as a large cast of imaginary characters. In places the show seemed almost operatic in its production and lyrical quality.
Out of the blue, and to our great delight, along came someone new – a drag queen from a larger world that Steven met by chance and found awe inspiring right from their first encounter. As we watched he seemed like a little boy being led into a new world of wonders he had never dreamed of – a world where at last he felt at home.
But he sang of great heartache as well. Having plucked up the courage to tell him, he loses his father’s approval and finds himself actually disowned. In tears he shouted “I won’t apologize for being who I am”. He had come onstage dressed as a woman, with long blond hair and a tight sequinned pink dress. Now the joke becomes serious, symbol of a great expression of overcoming. With every leap he took us with him, his songs becoming bold, and his world that little bit happier as he realised the true nature of his identity, the real Steven in full frock and make-up. This show was put together to make us laugh and cry, and it did that in spades. It also brought joy out of the heart of despair as we shared the quest to be your real self whatever it may be.