Search Results for moffat

The Lottery Ticket

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Sep 17-22 

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Imagine you have access to a time machine. You pop back to the beginning of the 20th century and happen to bump into mega-rich philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. You tell him a bit about yourself, how you can contact anyone in the world, pretty much instantly and by pressing a button send them a message, photo or movie. You can also talk to them and you can see each other in real time as you chat. You might mention your foreign holidays, car, the pineapples, bananas, grapes that are available to you in the supermarket all year round… and so much more. What Mr Carnegie would want know is, how many millions are you worth.

Salih, a Kurdish asylum seeker and his Polish pal Jacek, don’t feel much like millionaires, sleeping in a bin shelter in the neat back court of a block of houses (a terrific piece of set design by Jonathan Scott and Gemma Patchett). Breakfast is a banana from Waitrose’s trash. As they clean up their litter Salih finds a lottery ticket which could herald a change of fortune, especially when Rhona from the flats bursts out the back door cursing the problem she has with overflowing effluence in her toilet. The men see an opportunity. Can they fix it? Yes they can. They’ll do it by the book – literally, a do it yourself volume Jacek runs to get from the library. A pipe is blocked but they have access to a sledge hammer, what could possibly go wrong?

Nebli Basani’s Salih is a born story teller weaving fate and faith, omens and realities into unlikely probabilities. At times he steps out of the action to stand front of stage and tell tales from his harrowing past. Under a single spotlight, his tall elegant presence is endearing and commanding.

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Steven Duffy’s Jacek is a more down to earth, everyman character who just wants to work for a fair wage and send home money to the wife he loves and misses.
Helen Mallon’s Rhona is a no-nonsense, feisty Glaswegian woman who has a graphic design business to run and deadlines to meet. When not screaming at the flushing neighbours contributing to her toxic problem, she has sympathy for the men but more importantly just wants them to do the job before her important clients turn up. She’ll give them a chance but they better not mess up.

There is an interesting dichotomy at the heart Donna Franceschild’s moving play. While it would require a heart of stone not to sympathise with the plight of these two decent blokes struggling to subsist in a foreign country, the scam they feel obliged to commit would certainly leave the victim of it with a less than favourable impression of both men, and perhaps by extension, all immigrants and asylum seekers.

One thing is for sure, those lucky enough to live in this country, have a home, a reasonable income and access to free medical care, have already won the lottery of life, several times over. Buying a ticket for this excellent, nuanced drama would not be a gamble.

David G Moffat

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Tap Dancing with Jean-Paul Sartre

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Sep 10-15 

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


“All human actions are equivalent and all are on principle doomed to failure.” So said pipe smoking, deep thinker, Jean-Paul Sartre. But, as is often the case with the philosophically inclined, his advice is for giving, not taking. When it comes to searching for love, failure (or Simone de Beauvoir) is not to be contemplated.

Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn are in Paris rehearsing dance routines for the movie Funny Face. They’re giving some serious thought to the nature of the alluring deception that is their chosen profession, when they stumble across a guitar strumming, quote spouting, Jean- Paul Sartre who engages them in intellectual discourse and a bit of existential improvisation. The philosopher’s high-minded musings go out the fenetre, when faced with Audrey’s gamine beauty and he pursues her with Wile E. Coyote determination. Although elegant Fred Astaire is at hand to keep an eye on the Frenchman’s amorous intentions, he needn’t worry; cool, chic Miss Hepburn has the situation under control.

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Darren Brownlie’s Fred Astaire taps and sings with boundless energy, aptly demonstrating that true freedom comes, not from theoretical pondering on one’s derriere but through laborious and diligent practice at your craft. Those who are familiar with Brownlie’s work will be pleased to note there is room for some of the broader, physical humour (cue the giant moustache) at which he also excels. In addition to his own splendid performance, he choreographed the play.

Ashley Smith’s Audrey Hepburn is vulnerable yet full of graceful strength. Her scene as a piece of living film, slowed down, sped up, rewound, is a particular delight. She gives us two different faces of Audrey Hepburn, pixie ingénue and tiara lady in the little black dress. Kevin Lennon’s Jean-Paul Sartre is an utterly believable, shameless cerebral chancer prepared to summon whatever words it will take to ingratiate himself with the object of his desire. He is a champagne communist whose redeeming feature is self awareness. He knows for sure that God, if he exists, loves a trier.

The direction in James Runcie’s excellent play is first class with back projections of locations cleverly extending the dimensions of the stage. While the show invites us to enjoy song, dance and wit (and we do) it also slips in a deeper question. Is choosing a role to play and performing it, the ultimate existential act? A great piece of theatre you’d be out of your mind to miss.

David G Moffat

five-stars

Outside In

 

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
3rd-8th May

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Jay, a distressed young man in tartan pyjama bottoms and floppy slippers, paces anxiously while awaiting the return of his mother with the milk he desperately needs for his late supper of Rice Krispies. The agoraphobia that won’t let him leave the house is reinforced by a succession of bleak reports on the TV news. What the nervous Jay doesn’t need, is a hand wiggling through the letter box like a horizontal Lady of the Lake, holding not Excalibur, but an automatic pistol that drops with a clunk to the floor. Soon Coco, an apparently aggressive youth is pounding at the door, demanding and gaining entry to the flat – and there’s still no sign of mammy and the milk. Could things get any worse? Well on the plus side, local police officer Kayleigh, who is on a shots-fired case and hungry, can take her Rice Krispies without milk. She does have a few questions though, that both of the guys might struggle to answer.

Christian Ortega’s Jay and Martin Quinn’s Coco are a delightful pair of seemingly mismatched characters that find they have more in common than they think. As they bounce hilarious, perfectly timed, verbal misunderstandings off each other an unlikely bond is built that softens the would-be gangster Coco, and toughens the stay-at-home Jay. Their musings about the possible ways of eating soup without a bowl, straight off the table, is a discussion Beckett’s Vladimir and Estragon would have lapped-up.
Katie Barnett’s officer Kayleigh is a good natured, well grounded cop who knows Coco has ‘previous’ and works slowly but surely to unravel the case. Not short on dry humour, she opines that “Nobody should be in a gang that doesn’t have a tree house.”

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Chris Grady has written a comedy drama as bright as officer Kayleigh’s high vis jacket. With plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to keep the audience entertained, the dialogue is sharp and fresh, the characters funny and rounded. A highly entertaining play well worth getting out of the house to see.

David G Moffat

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Losing the Rag

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Aug 27 – Sept 1st

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Newspapers, especially the local variety, have been under the cosh for some time now as circulation falls and advertising moves from printed paper to pixelated screen. It would seem, with publications big or small, the medium is the message or as a succinct blogger might put it, Gutenberg … 0 Berners-Lee … 1. This is certainly the case with the Avondale Advertiser where Derek (Gerry Mulgrew) a stressed-out, old-school editor, is under pressure to boost digital ratings and avoid staff cuts. The 34 year veteran of journalism prowls his office despairing at the inaccuracies that litter his publication. With the newspaper’s owners, Mental Mickey the local junior football team manager and possibly Kim Jong-un on his case, he is a man with a strong-tea habit, feeling the strain.

Perhaps salvation lies with his second in command Susan (Louise Ludgate) who started journalism in the days of clattering typewriters and fag-fug newsrooms. She’s been working for some time on an exclusive involving a politician’s dodgy expenses. Could a financial scandal be the big story that saves the wee paper and secures jobs? There’s more than a hint of arrested development in the third member of the team, young Barry (Martin Donaghy) who hurtles to work on a BMX bike, headphone-cans clamped to his ears. He’s a broad-strokes, funny-photo sort of journo, with little idea of the consequences of getting the facts wrong. Yet might his youthful insouciance and social media savvy, trigger the online hits his paper needs or is his ‘Deadpool’ T-shirt an ominous prediction of the fate awaiting the press in all community newspapers?

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Alan Muir’s play takes an amusing look at the troubles facing traditional journalism when it has to compete with wacky web content for site hits. Although free online material is an issue, the main problem this fictional newspaper seems to have, is the incompetence of staff who fail to notice the numerous errors and mix-ups that pepper the publication. Injudicious quotes, misplaced adverts, wrongly captioned photographs; these faults are not caused by internet rivals. Maybe that’s the message – lower the standards of traditional journalism far enough and you get the equivalent of what dubious cyberspace has to offer.

Not a headliner but a fair start to Oran Mor’s new season of lunchtime plays.

David G Moffat

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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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