Saturday, May 23, 2009

"What the Animals Say" - May 2009

While the joy of the "A Play, A Pie & A Pint" seasons at Oran Mor is the variation in style and tone from week to week, there's always something a bit special about the ones that aim for pure comic entertainment. When they succeed, like "What the Animals Say" did, they send me back to the office with a grin that won't fade until three hours later when I hit the queues on the M8 on my way home.

David Ireland's comedy reunites two Belfast schoolfriends as they wait for the Stranraer to Belfast ferry. Both are now living in Glasgow, but under very different circumstances - Jimmy is a struggling actor waiting for his big break while Eddie has already made it big playing for Celtic. It takes a brave or foolish writer in his debut play to call to mind "Father Ted" and risk the inevitable comparisons, but here the reference works well in establishing exactly the tone the piece is aiming for - full of cuddly irreverence, physicality and playful obscenity.

The comedy is sustained throughout and rarely, if ever, misses the mark. It's just as well the audience at Oran Mor is willing to laugh at itself as both Glasgow and the theatrical community find themselves firmly in the firing line here. Other targets include their shared Loyalist background, the Beckhams and Mel Gibson. While much of the humour tests the boundaries of political acceptability, Ireland ensures that we are largely laughing at rather than with Eddie. Considered in isolation many of the laughs here shouldn't work half as well as they do, but there's such a momentum created that the laughs just seem to roll from one set piece to the next. Robbie Jack as Eddie and David Walshe as Jimmy make for a pretty spectacular double act and get every last laugh out of the material.

This is comedy at its best and if anyone out there is looking for a sitcom to go to pilot this would not be a bad place to start at all.

"What the Animals Say" has completed its run at Oran Mor.
Image by Leslie Black used with permission.

1 Heckle

JacksB said...

I absolutely loved this - real belly laughing stuff. It was hilarious looking at the reaction of the audience - they absolutely loved it. Fabulous actors both of them and a very humorously written play hurtling along at break neck speed. Would like to see more by either the actors or the playwright. Brilliant!