Search Results for moffat

The Vampire Clinic

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
28th May – 2nd June

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You may have speculated why appointments with doctors in surgeries or hospital clinics, never seem to keep to schedule. Why is it you always have to sit around for ages? Is it a case of overworked staff and too little time? Or is it a deliberate ploy by the NHS, to give waiting patients the opportunity to get to know each other, to share detailed descriptions of ailments, to exchange life stories including the current state of conjugal interactions… and pick up new friends? Genius or what!

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Findlay (William McBain) has plenty to contemplate as he sits in a bleak waiting room surrounded by Health Service flyers warning about the symptoms of heart disease. Sadie (Barbara Rafferty) has been here before and she’s come to terms with the changes a stroke can bring to your life. She tells us, one night she “went to bed a warrior and woke up a worrier”. She recognises the fear in Findlay and is determined to cheer him up with some breezy, Glasgow, heart-attack, banter. As his story moves from grim descriptions of the night of his seizure and the effects of his condition, to Pythonesque flights of fancy, he and hot blooded Sadie find they have more in common than a medical condition requiring Warfarin.

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Rafferty’s Sadie is literally, a survivor, soliloquising about the nature of her stroke in some detail, explaining the changes it rent in her brain, the split she lives with, which on occasion, lets another woman occupy her head. That said she is determined to put a positive spin, or at least wobble, on whatever challenges life throws at her. McBain’s Findlay is less proactive, still finding it hard to believe what has happened to him and concerned about what kind of future awaits. Both actors seemed to struggled with their dialogue on occasions which the charitable might put down to characterisation.

Peter McDougal has written a dark comedy that doesn’t shy away from the stark consequences of what can happen to relationships after illness. But the humour is broad and unrefined, sounding at times as if it belongs to an earlier decade.

Fails to get the blood pumping.

David G Moffat

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The First Dance

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
14th-19th May

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Real men don’t watch, top chick-flick, Dirty Dancing. They may have sat in a room when the DVD was playing but they were not looking. Most probably their thoughts were about something entirely masculine, like the sweaty, raw, grappling, physicality of a scrum at rugby. This could be a problem for Rhoda as she plans the ‘first dance’ at her upcoming wedding, because fiancé Terry is an oval ball enthusiast and a bit of a man’s man, not too keen on Terpsichore. To realise her big day’s dream of recreating the leaping finale in the 1980s film, she seeks the assistance of dance tutor Gavin. His theatrical posturing is not to Terry’s taste and the latter displays his homophobia by directing a shocking epithet at the instructor (cue sharp intake of breath from the audience). Regardless of this, a determined Rhoda will have her way. But there’s another problem, due to their strict religious beliefs, the couple cannot engage in anything involving close proximity, until after they’ve exchanged wedding vows. Adaptable Gavin will have to partner each separately. In this case it takes three to tango; he will be Patrick Swayze’s ‘Johnny’ for Rhoda… and Jennifer Grey’s ‘Baby’ for Terry.

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Darren Brownlie’s Gavin is a versatile delight, whether gathering himself in grief, sorrowfully owning the silences, or twisting, flexing, bending (has the man no ligaments) while delivering waspish retorts to any slights. Jo Freer’s Rhoda is the kind of woman who wears the trousers. Not only that, she keeps the Wedding Fund bank card and its PIN number, in the pocket of those trousers. She envisions a precise, fundamental future for herself and the man she hopes to create. Think Lady Macbeth but without the milky kindness. Daniel Cahill’s Terry is caught up in events, struggling with doubts about his upcoming marriage, trying to realise exactly who he is. A solid fortress of a man anxious not to have his drawbridge lowered.

Martin McCormick’s play, a satisfying mixture of the serious and comic, entertains right through to its uplifting conclusion. You’ll have the time of your life.

David G Moffat

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Chic Murray: A Funny Place for a Window

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
14th-19th May

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Imagine you’re in Scotland. The bells to welcome Ne’erday are still echoing across the frosty rooftops when there’s a knock at your door. You answer to see a large man with an avuncular smile wearing a small bunnet. He hands you a twelve inch ruler and says, “Happy New Year, here’s your first foot.” Congratulations, you’re in a Chic Murray joke and there’s a wheen of his gags to be enjoyed in this entertaining comedy, written and directed by Stuart Hepburn.

Maidie, Chic’s wife, is looking through a box of old theatre bills, recalling when she first met the tall droll man while seeking theatrical digs at his mother’s house. Two years later they’re married and encouraged by his wife, Chic starts telling his jokes on stage. Initially a reluctant performer, Maidie gives him advice on technique, pointers on timing and soon his own style of surreal humour is getting attention from rapt audiences… and admiring chorus girls. As TV and film rolls beckon, he and Maidie start to drift apart.

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IMG_7662.JPGDave Anderson is Chic, punctuating the accentuated chimes of his dialogue with fractional pauses, delaying the entirely logical denouement that illustrates the absurd. (Obviously he can’t get you mince when he’s passing the butcher’s… he’d have to go inside.) From the arms that dangle as if Chic didn’t know what to do with them, to the narrowing eyes and rakish grin of collusion with his audience, all the Murray mannerisms are on display.

Kate Donnelly is Maidie, a woman keen to encourage and support her husband, willing to swap her successful singing, tap and accordion act to play second fiddle to Chic.
The ensemble is played by Brian James O’Sullivan, a Jack and master of all trades. He acts, sings, plays accordion and piano. His rectus grinning Liberace is a particular delight. The author, cast and Chic’s jokes, create an hour of comedy that gives everyone in the packed audience a lift… which (as the man himself would have said) is of precious little use to those who live in bungalows.

David G Moffat

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Hot Water

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
7th-12th May

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It’s taps aff in Glasgow’s Oran Mor. Not the ritual removal of shirts, T or otherwise, due to the arrival of the long overdue good weather but because the bath is full and Annie’s for a soak. She doesn’t like a smelly soak, involving exotic lotions, potions and bath bombs gifted by family and friends (are they trying to tell her something), though she does enjoy a long immersion, with nobody banging at the door asking her to hurry up, as they are needing in.

IMG_7655i.jpgA solitary woman, her idea of bliss is to leave the splendid isolation of her nice wee terrace, visit the library, come home and spend an hour in the tub with Radio 4 playing on the wireless. It’s a great place to reminisce, remember past exploits, like using her concession card to travel to the East Neuk of Fife, swim the chilly waters along the shore at Crail and lose her clothes. There are other, more philosophical matters to consider, such as her relationship with god and where exactly, she would like to be buried at sea. Her only worry, for the moment, is not to bathe too long in case she suffers pernicious pruning…

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Steven Dick has written a splendid play about a woman who has reached a stage in life where isolation is, the not unpleasant, norm. Yet as we hear her expansive thoughts on the state of skin, from exfoliation to rigor mortis, we realise she has tremendous resources of wit and wisdom that really should be shared.Janette Foggo portrays Annie as a woman we all recognise, strong, independent, capable of taking life’s vicissitudes on the chin and getting on with things. The actress mixes stand-up type zingers to the audience with lengthy, humorous, existential monologues and ends her performance by displaying, for our entertainment and enlightenment, an impressive piece of recollection, worthy of the nerdiest schoolboy (or girl). A slam-dunk success.

David G Moffat

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Where’s Lulu

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
30th May-5th April

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For people of a certain age it’s hard to forget Britain’s early entries to the Eurovision Song Contest (‘Sing Little Birdie’ by Pearl Carr & Teddy Johnson, from 1959, anyone?) but we should try. The nascent competition favoured a particular type of perky, bouncy melody with simplistic lyrics and not a lot had changed by 1969, when a troubled Lulu faces singing ‘Boom Bang A Bang’ in Franco’s Spain. Has her voice gone or is it all IMG_7587i Stephanie McGregor Sarah, McCardie,Romana Abercrombie.jpgpsychosomatic?

Danny McCahon’s play is set in the singer’s dressing room before she takes to the stage to represent her country. Lulu (Stephanie McGregor) has concerns that go beyond pleasing the audience; she has seen the future of music and it is not MOR. This isn’t what her manager, Marion (Romana Abercromby) wants to hear. She’s more interested in pleasing the BBC and getting future TV shows commissioned. Lulu’s mother Betty (Sarah McCardie) reminds her daughter she’s been performing and charming people since she was four years old and tonight will be no different. Certainly the marshmallow pink dress that Lulu is compelled to wear, looks like it was designed for a four year old but she is assured it will look splendid on the relatively novel, coloured broadcast.

IMG_7609i Stephanie McGregor.jpgMcGregor’s Lulu bears a remarkable resemblance to the pop star, visually and vocally. The fluttering spider eyelashes, the head tilts and hand gestures are all spot on. When she speaks, the slide from the extended vowels of her adopted English to the guttural consonants of her native Glasgow, are delightfully half and hawf.  McCardie’s Betty has a brash confidence and belief in her daughter that is tinged with just a hint of envy that Marie (as she calls Lulu) got out, and got on. Is her green dress trying to tell us something? Abercromby’s Marion is elegant in patterned culottes, with a beehive that’s a testament to the power of hairspray. Her well spoken tones are a template for Lulu’s acquired, Received Pronunciation.

Complex issues of identity, ambition and coming of age are thoughtfully addressed in this play about a young woman seeking to find her own way in the music business. McGregor’s performance of ‘Boom Bang A Bang’ is something to shout about.

David G Moffat

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The Persians

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
23rd-28th April

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What have the Persians ever done for us?

Well they developed the first modern economy, including the introduction of paper money, instigated the first postal service and invented algebra. But surely all these achievements fade into insignificance, when measured against their contribution to problem solving major decisions. Those determining the outcome had to agree when they were drunk and still agree later, when hung over.

IMG_7552i Meghan Tyler, Liam  Brennan, Irene Allan.jpgIn Tory Ian Wellesley’s Westminster office there’s only Earl Grey, muffins and a political hot potato on offer, when fellow parliamentarians, Kirstin Thompson and Mary Rodgers, join him to discuss a petition in favour of the reintroduction of capital punishment. Agreement proves impossible and in an effort to calm the growing turbulence, Ian breaks out the fortified wine, well any port in a storm. Soon the women are shoes-off drunk and dancing to tunes from the office laptop while Ian struts his stuff to the strains of ‘Macho Man’. Wheels oiled, the ideas on how to handle the tricky petition start to flow fast and thick. There may even be time to sort out Mary’s Northern Ireland too! In vino veritas for sure; what could possibly go wrong?

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The author of the drama, Meghan Tyler, plays Mary, a fiery young DUP member dressed in a crisp white blouse and royal blue trousers that wouldn’t be out of place behind an Ulster, Lambeg drum. Her language is as strong as her fundamentalist belief that ‘Dinosaurs are lies’. Liam Brennan’s Ian is a grey suited Conservative, very much the professional politician, all for consensus – if it makes problems melt away. His voice has the resounding, practised tones and rhythms of chamber debate, in contrast to his circumspect manner with his colleagues. Irene Allan’s Kirstin is power dressed in black with dark hair scraped back from her forehead. Sensible, practical, conscious of what it means to represent Scotland, she’s a politician with an eye on the future.

There are energetic but nuanced performances from all three cast members in this enjoyable, cautionary tale of parliamentary pitfalls. Exit polls say yes.

David G Moffat

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Eulogy

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
16th-21st April

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This week Oran Mor hosts a service of Remembrance, in loving memory of the dearly departed Sandy Alison Munro (1963-2018). Sandy left explicit instructions as to how the occasion should pass-off; this may explain why the traditional Scottish purvey of flaccid, lukewarm sausage rolls was replaced by Scotch pies. There was a full house of the bereaved which would have surely have pleased the deceased. Sandy’s big brother, the Reverend Andrew Munro, tall, dark, slim, like Guinness in a test tube, emceed the event, leading those gathered, through a list of his wee brother’s dubious achievements, while photographic slides of Sandy in happier times (obvs) appeared on a screen above the coffin.

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Rob Drummond’s play is a dark comedy about the life and hard times of Sandy Munroe, a man who found joy difficult to come by in life so is determined to find some in death. He has left detailed plans that involve his brother Andrew (Benny Young) singing a pastiche of Candle in the Wind as part of the Eulogy. Try as the good Reverend may to put a gloss on Sandy’s life, the truth will out (including an obsession with a certain red headed, BBC Scotland, news presenter). Former wife Anne (Joyce Falconer) is vilified as a rank bad-yin for legging it to Cyprus with a sailor but there are two sides to every story and she is adamant hers will be heard. Callum Cuthbertson provides Sandy’s video message from beyond the grave.

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There are songs, plenty of belly-laugh moments and more than a few buried truths to keep the audience engaged.

Young’s face is wonderfully immobile and gloomy while delivering hilarious stories about the past but his long, energetic arms and legs eat up the stage, taking him out of I.M. Jolly territory. Falconer gives us a more solid, determined character. A formidable woman, a rock to build on, or crash against, the choice is yours. There are songs, plenty of belly-laugh moments and more than a few buried truths to keep the audience engaged. The pace did seem to slow at the end, where perhaps a bit of judicious dialogue trimming would not have gone amiss. That said, dead good.

David G Moffat

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Exploring the Glasgow Pantosphere

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Oran Mor / The Tron
Glasgow
06/12/17


CINDERELLA 2
The Oran Mor, Glasgow
27th Nov – 30th Dec

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IMG_7064i, Joanne McGuinness.jpgFor the past few months, The Mumble’s chief ambassador to the Oran Mor’s benevolent-in-so-many-ways Play, Pie & a Pint paradigm, David G Moffat has reviewed every single theatrical offering. Not wanting to go an entire season without tasting a piece & a pie, I cashed in my CEO chips & went Westside for Cinderella 2: I Married a Numpty. I was partaking for the first time in one of Glasgow’s startlingly native creative outputs, the brandy-imbued blancmange that is the city’s adult pantomime. All the boys & girls in the audience are grown up, but in the psyche of us all there is a mimesial box of affection just waiting to be opened by colours, sounds & dodgy puns. Thus, once the opening number had told us, with rather well-toned vocals, that pantomime’s ‘not just for wains anymore,’ I was ready to rock.

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Written & directed by the erstwhile & perennially pretty Morag Fullerton, I went on to witness a slightly slapsticky, mostly amsuing boozecruise through the modern morphing of Commedia d’ell Arte. The comedic archetypes on this occasion are the cerebrally Blackpoolesque Auntie Etta (surname Dick), played by local lad & long time donjon of screen & stage, Dave Anderson; Joanne McGuinness as a fun & feisty Cinderella, Clare Waugh as her ugly sister, Wan-Tooth Winnie, & the high-status thespianity of John Kielty, who played both ‘shag-shag-shoot-shoot’ Prince Charming & the bumblingly beautiful, childrens’ presenteresque Buttheid, the rivals for Cinderella’s affections in love.

In fairy tales, perhaps the most unbelievable aspect is the notion that people live happily ever after, & so it has proved to be in Cindereallaworld, where the class divide between her & her posh prince is soon tearing at the tether with gold-plated or rotting teeth. As for the tradition, all the trimmings are there. Bouncy, chorus-catchy sing-a-long songs; the love potion motif, one I remembered from my last panto, sometime in the 1980s in Manchester, with my gran’s works from Burnley; there was speaking bluebird puppetry; the ‘O yes I did, O no you didn’t,’ sonic pendulum; the finale sing-song tonguetwister rolled out on a big canvas at the back of the stage, & so on. The script was snappy, native & of course, satirical, in the popular contemporaneity way. Auntie Etta had the best lines, especially her, ‘I feel like a chameleon traversing a kilt,‘ & her comments on acquiring the proper vestiges of minor celebrity ever since her niece married into royalty – these days she gets to call out bingo numbers in Partick Burgh Hall. The other three actors all gave top-grade performances, especially John Kielty who not only played two parts here, but is also starring in the Citizens panto, Hansel and Gretel, in the evenings. Overall, I Married a Numpty looks, sounds & feels great, & with the use of radio mics is one of the best immersive experiences I’ve ever had at the Oran Mor’s PPP. Unfortunately for most, the thing is completely sold-out, but if you are one of the lucky ones who has a ticket, you’re in for a treat. FOUR STARS.

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ALICE IN WEEGIELAND
The Tron, Glasgow
Dec 1st – Jan 7th

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After the Oran Mor, I intended to do a spot of Christmas shopping for the family, but in fact only visited Fopp & a couple of charity shops near the theatre where I rather selfishly bought stuff only for myself. I’m sure I am not alone in feeling an abject terror in buying ‘just the right thing’ for one’s loved ones at Christmas, & find comfort & solace in buying personalised tat instead. I then drove up to my pal’s house in Riddrie for a meal & a nap – Glasgow is soooooo exhausting – before returning to the city centre & the Tron for the second panto of the day. As soon as I arrived I realised this production would also be catering for children. Two groups of brownies – a 22 & a 48 according to the usher – had filled the auditorium to capacity. ‘Wooaah, wooaah, wooaahh,’ I thought to myself, this panto was written by Johnny McKnight, whose Wendy Hoose I reviewed at last year’s Fringe, & which was, one would say, unsuitable for children.

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I need not have worried. McKnight has created something straight out of the Alexander Makeev school of Panto. In St Petersburg in the 1980s, Makeev began experimenting with dance, clowning & drama to create a style which appeals to adults & to children alike. Alice In Weegieland is a perfect example of the model, whose colloquial, lyrical comedy is downright genius. The story is based, of course, on Alice in Wonderland. ‘Do you wanna come down & have a swatch?‘ asks Scott Fletcher’s slick, red-haired, camptastic Knave of Hearts. Alice agrees, played calmly & cutely by Daisy Ann Fletcher, whose recent failure at ballet class has sent her spinning headfirst into the metaphorical depths of redemption. Down the hole, Alice soon finds that the playing cards of Lewis Carrol’s made-up land have been replaced by chip-tossing, sweet-chucking burberry chavs. ‘Welcome to Weegieland,‘ they sing to the fun musicality of just-by-the-stage, orange-suited musical maestro, Ross Brown, ‘where we work hard for cash in hand.’ ‘Welcome to Weegieland,‘ they sing again, ‘where drinking outside has been banned!’ Then enters the brilliant, street-shuffling, glitterblinging, jittery Doormouse, played with sublime authenticity by Jo Freer. Next up was Julie Wilson Nimmo’s Catterpillar, Catty P, whose remarkable costume was just one of the many aesthetic gems that made up the joyously twinkling dramaturgical tiara that crowned McKnight’s superlative-pregnant panto.

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The star of the show, & of probably the theatrical year as far as I am concerned, was Darren Brownlie. Both his characters were in drag – Frauline Rot the ballet teacher, & the Queen of Hearts, & both were beyond brilliant. Through his decisive, supernova performances, & all the rest of the oomph & bumph of pantomime in its prime, Alice in Weegieland is a glossy explosion & riotous romp through Glasgow’s ‘otherverse.’ Occasionally, I found that the subplots were clung onto a tad too much, the re-explanations spoiling the flow somewhat, but the show is a full 2 hours long & the time needed to be filled. A couple of cuts here & there & we would have a masterpiece on our hands. A few seats are still available for Alice in Weegieland this year, not many mind, & it is worth travelling to from all parts of Scotland to watch with, I’d say, kids above the age of 10. FIVE STARS

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The Weir Sisters

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
20-25 November, 2017

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It’s Christmas day in Paradise and young Grace who passed away in the 1940s, is all a flutter, laying out the sausage rolls and Bristol Cream in anticipation of a very special visitor. She is assisted by her older, down-to-earth sister Margaret, who refuses to use the ‘Chalice of Vision’ to keep up with terrestrial events. She’ll only stick her face in water if it’s to dook for apples. A celestial bell announces the arrival of a third sister, the recently expired, doddery Dorothy. Difficult truths can at last be divulged and sibling forgiveness sought.

IMG_6928i Deborah Arnott, Sandra  McNeeley, Meghan Tyler.jpgMeghan Tyler is wonderfully endearing as the aptly named Grace, bringing a wide-eyed earnest innocence to the role. Sandra McNeely’s feisty Margaret delivers the best of the jokes while Deborah Arnott as Dorothy, has the saddest tale to tell. As her ancient form uncoils from her zimmer to rediscover her youthful stature (you get to choose your preferred age in heaven) her accent, for no apparent reason, mysteriously transforms from that of the Western Isles to Glaswegian???

Lynn Ferguson’s admirable play has humour, pathos and a large dollop of yuletide sentimentality that would please Frank Capra and bring a tear to old man Potter’s eye. The production is a worthy finale to Oran Mor’s Autumn Season.

Reviewer : David G Moffat

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Kind Stranger

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor,Glasgow
13-18 November 2017

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Why would someone choose to be a regular hospital visitor? Do they have a philanthropic wish to do good work, or maybe just enjoy the sound of their own voice? The eponymous kind stranger (Tom Urie) pops into a room with one bed, to find he has a captive audience as the patient is in a coma. This presents no obstacle to the jolly, wisecracking visitor, (“Hands up who disnae want a story?”) he has a bag-full of books from which he can read aloud. Tellingly his favourite is A Christmas Carol, with its supernatural tale of a life turned around and redemption attained.

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This one-man play by Matthew McVarish appears to be a straight forward account of the visitor’s life, his fear and rejection before finding love and acceptance but as he reveals more about his life, we start to question if this linear narrative is all that it seems to be. The dialogue when varying from bouncy knockabout to gloomy introspection works well but the preponderance of enlightening quotes from Hippocrates, Sophocles, Buddha, Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, Helen Keller, Anne Frank, Dolly Parton and many others, does seem a bit much, even for a well-read man. Urie puts in a fine performance as the irrepressible visitor, whose layers of brash confidence are slowly shed to reveal an unexpected sensitivity. The denouement may have you scratching your head a bit- but in a good way.

Reviewer : David G Moffat

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