Search Results for moffat

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

Script: five-stars Stagecraft: five-stars  Performance: four-stars.png

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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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Meat Market

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A Play, A Pie and A Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
6-11 Nov

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We live in a world where everything has a price and is usually available at the click of a cursor. So if it’s 3am and a trio of disparate characters have a rendezvous in a 24 hour gym to discuss a purchase, surely something nefarious must be afoot? Well yes but to reveal the clever conceit at the centre of Chris Grady’s thoughtful dark comedy, would be criminal indeed.

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What does mercenary Alex (Megan Shandley), tall, confident and a robust picture of health, have that could interest wee Fran (Julie Duncanson), a chanty-mouthed bundle of perspiration in a sweatshirt and joggy bottoms? Could it be the same thing that cultured, epicurean Bruce (Robin Laing) hungers for? Will his silver tongue and well argued logic win the day?

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Though earthy Fran gets the best of the stinging banter, asking follicly challenged Bruce if he’s Bruce, as in Willis, as in ‘King of the Bald Guys’, all three actors are in fine contrasting form revealing their true motivations as the action progresses and personal ethics get a workout. This is a seriously funny, original piece of drama that’s well worth stretching your legs to get along and see.

Reviewer : David G Moffat

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The Burton Taylor Affair

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A Play, A Pie and A Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
30th October – 4th November

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IMG_6818i Chelsey Gillard, Steven  Elliot.jpgA huge photographic portrait of a movie star with arched eyebrows, hooded eyes and sultry lips dominates the stage. Either side of the framed picture, luxurious swathes of golden drapes glitter but little else does, in this disappointing drama by Steven Elliot featuring a reminiscing, Richard Burton (Dewi Rhys Williams) and Elizabeth Taylor (Vivien Reid). Comparisons of the couples earnings, Oscar nominations, and capacity for alcohol are ping-ponged back and forward with little conflagration, while lengthy quotes from Shakespeare and Marlow, used to illustrate their tempestuous on screen/off screen relationship, offer the best of what little chemistry the actors have.

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The female movie star seems far too young to hold her own, in a verbal joust with the mature stage actor and one wonders if Williams is reluctant to let loose the throaty Welsh grit of the full-Burton voice, for fear of extinguishing Reid’s lacklustre Taylor completely. This is a story that requires something a bit special to intrigue an audience familiar with the antics of a real-life married twosome they have seen on screen and in all probability, as characters portrayed by other actors. The play and cast deliver a muted, far from legendary, piece of theatre.

Reviewer : David G Moffattwo-stars

#71

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A Play, A Pie and A Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
23-28 October 2017 

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Septuagenarian Chrissy (Karen Dunbar) is rarely without pain and having tried every pill on the planet, has come to a decision. She’s invited her two closest friends round to the house as there is big news to impart. While she waits she slowly dances, in the old fashioned way, with a framed photo of her departed husband. The two chums couldn’t be more different with Jean (Maureen Carr) a short, permed, devout, worrier, prone to repeated malapropisms and Coco (Clare Waugh) a tall, confident, woman of the world, littering her speech with dubious Parisian pretensions – N’est-ce pas?

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On a stage, impressively transformed into a conservatory, the women swap memories and insults while searching for the essential truth about love and death…as one does in Whiteinch. When Jean reveals she has a passion for Grime then hip-hops a song about her loss of faith, we know sooner or later, this will end in gin. The affection for Dunbar (who wrote the play) from the packed audience is palpable and each familiar Glasgow expression included in the dialogue is rewarded with the laughter of recognition. There is however, a paucity of genuinely funny lines, for the broadly caricatured characters, to deliver.

Reviewer : David G Moffat

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From The Air

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

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Pete’s retired from the rigs so no more chopper-hopping is required. The kids have flown the nest leaving him and wife Claire, free as birds. Time to catch a plane to Italy and that little Tuscan villa they have always dreamed of buying. Thing is she has a phobia about flying – and forget driving, she also hates tunnels. Still, maybe if she pings that rubber band around her wrist frequently and hard enough, all will be well.

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Fear of flying, its causes and often funny consequences for Claire (Angela Darcy) and Pete (David McGowan), is explored in this well written, thoroughly enjoyable play by Anita Vettesse. Darcy’s portrayal of Claire is a wonderful mixture of mad panic and perceptive questions…. (Why don’t they have airbags on a plane?)

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Her manic contortions, as crisis and terror grip, are utterly persuasive as are the humorous details of her morbid “arrangements”, which are to be found at the back of her knicker drawer in the event of the aircraft dropping out of the sky. McGowan’s Pete provides a steady, less turbulent presence, a necessary counterpoint to his partner’s turmoil but with plenty of dry, sardonic insights to impart. With clever use of back projected clips of old aviation footage to supplement the always entertaining dialogue, this is a first class flight.

Reviewer : David G Moffat

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Hysteria

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
9-14 October

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IMG_6643i George Drennan, Annie GraceBased on conversations with over a hundred women, Hysteria, we are told from the stage, is not a play but a cabaret. Dialogue and song are used to show the many ways women are detrimentally portrayed in the press and unduly affected by political legislation. Judgement on the Daily Mail objectifying the legs of Teresa May and Nicola Sturgeon is delivered in the guise of a breathless horse race commentary. The polemic covers a wide range of misogyny from the predatory nature of Trump’s sexual behaviour to the DUP’s anti-abortion stance and the film Gaslight.

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There’s not much in the worthy sentiments of A J Taudevin’s writing that any sane person would take issue with but citing Gaslight, on two occasions, as an example female oppression seems less sound. It is fiction after all and a great example of Victorian Melodrama, bad man does bad things then gets caught, that doesn’t suggest trying to drive your wife crazy is actually a good idea. The cast of three, Annie Grace, Maryam Hamidi and George Drennan, put plenty of energy and endeavour into getting the content across (Drennan gamely raps a call and response with the audience) but it does seem as if the jumbled show has been written by committee and is carrying its message more by camel than horse.

Reviewer : David G Moffat

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Love and Death in Govan and Hyndland

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor
Glasgow
Oct 2nd-7th

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Trips to the toilet, cups of tea, banging your head on the desk, these are standard diversions for any scribbler with writer’s block. Time to get your mother out the cupboard and have a chat with her urn; after all it is the tenth anniversary of her passing.

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Ivan (Stephen Clyde) looks back a decade, reflecting on the relationship between his mother and himself at the time she discovers she is dying. Fifty years of smoking has lead to terminal lung cancer, ashes to ashes indeed but this is a woman who knows her own mind. No daft bucket list of extreme sports thank you, she is happy in her own home. Besides, every time she’s out and coughs, the neighbours phone their weans to get their name down for the hoose. Clyde handles this demanding one-man performance with confidence, zinging Glasgow barbs in the voice of Ivan and his mother, as both use humour to cope with impending loss.

Events in Ian Pattison’s excellent play, the shift of control, the need for the younger person to communicate in the world of the older, the physical indignities, all will be familiar to those who have experienced loss of an elderly parent. An engaging piece of theatre that is poignant, funny and true.

Reviewer : David G Moffat

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Pleading

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
25-30 September

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Inside a Far East prison a young couple sit at a table awaiting the arrival of a lawyer. Incarcerated for the last 22 days, their prospects seem as dim as the flickering bulb that lights the dubious stains on the walls of the interview room. If Freya (Kim Allan) and Michael (Daniel Cameron) are to be saved from the most severe of punishments they must tell Amelia (Nicole Cooper), their legal representative, everything that happened before they caught the plane in Brisbane. Both have reasons to be economical with the truth but the fact is, somehow, someway, something illegal got into their luggage.

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Allan’s Freya is convincing as a feisty, defiant teenager, impatiently demanding the legal system realises they are not foreign but British. Cameron’s Michael is timid, prone to despair, more likely than his travelling companion to turn to tears when the going gets tough. He wears shorts, she wears the trousers. Cooper’s Amelia is a calm presence carefully teasing out the truth, laying out the options, curtailing the more outlandish hopes of the accused – the UK is unlikely to revoke trade deals to ensure their release (well not with Brexit looming).

Writer Rob Drummond’s satisfying play moves to the Traverse in Edinburgh next week, where its serpentine plot will keep the audience guessing right till the end.

Reviewer : David G Moffat

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