Oran Mor, Glasgow
Mar 2 – 7, 2020
Today’s play, named simply “Daniel”, by Isabel Wright, had an intriguing set, simple but effective – a screen lit with a violet light. This one man show began with Daniel (Jack Tarlton) on the floor of what turned out to be a toilet – a striking image to start the story with. His trousers were round his ankles as he came to and roused himself into discourse, reflecting that the life he was living could be likened to waking in a toilet. It seemed like the beginning of something dark and macabre.
We were soon set straight in the next scene where Daniel stood tall in clothes that no longer made him look like some down-and-out about to shoot up. In darkly comic short scenes the tale of Daniel’s travels in London and Edinburgh began to emerge, peopled by off-stage characters that illustrated the different stages of his life. With more than enough on his shoulders, Daniel was shown on the one hand to be pathetic and yet also able to show resilience as he recounted his feelings for his father, his dog, his true love, Katie Watkins.
The action was punctuated throughout by silences and blackouts, adding impact to Daniel’s weird and wonderful take on life and inviting us to laugh, sometimes guiltily, as his forthright dialogue hit home. All delivered with a quiet physicality that held the room and somehow enlarged the comedy. One scene entirely consisted of him hilariously downing a bottle of Irn-Bru, just that, leaving us exposed in our silence.
Isabel Wright’s play made use of theatrical techniques to create a kind of bottomless comedy that felt new, reflective and powerful. As we followed the protagonist on his journey’s highs and lows, we were taken first into darkness then light where there was love and care, then back to darkness again. It wasn’t a linear journey, but if you took it in your stride it somehow all made sense. As an experience it was enticingly funny, brave and concisive, well worth seeing.