Monday, April 27, 2009

"A Drop in the Ocean" - April 2009

Okay, here's what I gather from the blurb for Dave Anderson's latest musical contribution to "A Play, A Pie & A Pint" at Oran Mor. "A Drop in the Ocean" is essentially a spin-off from his highly regarded "Tir na nOg" which was a sequel to his previous "Flowers in the River" and its prequel "A Walk in the Park". Confused? You won't be.

Given that I hadn't seen any of those I had some pretty strong reservations about attending this week, but after the rather serious set of shows last week I thought something a bit lighter might be just the thing. Yes, it's probably true that those familiar with the previous pieces will get a bit more out of it, but make no mistake, this is perfectly serviceable as a standalone piece.

With this being the 150th play since the start of "A Play, A Pie & A Pint" it's a little different from the usual lunchtime offerings at Oran Mor. Pies and Pints are to be consumed upstairs this week - so don't arrive at five to one expecting to gulp your pie and sip your pint during the play. Another reason to arrive in good time is to catch the RSAMD students that form the show's chorus providing some lively pre-show entertainment. Anyone with mobility issues may also want to have a word with the staff to see about ensuring a comfortable location downstairs - for the usual rows of seats are largely absent leaving many perched on benches or leaning against pillars. Although mostly staged in-the-round, at times this verges on being a promenade performance as audience members standing on the fringes are encouraged to get a little closer to the action.

Set in a bar at the bottom of the ocean the plot may be pure fluff, but Anderson's songs are razor sharp. Particularly effective are a bitesized take on 'Black Watch', a cutting reminder of those cast aside through industrial decline, and a warning of the dangers of searching for solace in a glass. Pauline Knowles, George Drennan, Onur Orkut and Anderson himself give strong performances but much of the energy and joy here comes from the substantial student chorus playing a variety of lost souls and a rather spectacular sea-monster.

A greatly enjoyable 50 minutes that feels as if it could happily be expanded to a full scale musical.

A Drop in the Ocean runs at Oran Mor until Saturday 2nd May.
Image by Leslie Black used with permission.