Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"The Glimmering Nymph" - October 2009

I've missed the first few plays in the new season of "A Play, A Pie & A Pint" at Oran Mor so I was looking forward to getting along this week. But what a disappointment was in store for me. There's no other way of putting it - this visit was a huge let down and not remotely up to the high standards set during my previous experiences. So I have to ask: Have they changed who supplies their pies or was I just unlucky that mine seemed to be half fat and gristle? It's just as well the play was fantastic!

Sandy Nelson's play is brilliantly funny and devastatingly sad in equal measures. We meet Per (played by Nelson) as he climbs onto a girder high on a Swedish bridge cursing the girlfriend and friend whose betrayal has driven him to this. As he composes himself before stepping off, he is joined by Ailsa Courtney's Dubrilla - a somewhat surreal figure of a young woman in a shimmering blue party dress. Over the next 45 minutes they share and debate their reasons for jumping - he to make others feel guilty, her through disillusionment with the political apathy of the world around her.

I don't think its possible for me to capture the essence of the exchanges between the two, but while going all out for laughs Nelson and Courtney establish a chemistry that makes the instant bond between the characters believable. Nelson's portrayal of Per's emotional breakdown is as heart-wrenching a moment as I've seen on stage this year. And the only thing preventing me from connecting with Dubrilla to the same extent was the nagging suspicion the character wasn't quite what she seemed to be. These are two performance right out of the top drawer.

Over the years I've been mildly amused on several occasions reading the extensive credits of Patrick & Rita McGurn as designers for various shows at Oran Mor as at times the sum total of the 'design' can amount to a table and chair. But here their credit is very much earned. Our characters are perched on a wide 'girder' covered in orange paint and 'rivets' in a manner reminiscent of the Forth Rail Bridge with a similarly styled vertical strut at one end. It looks fantastic and instantly establishes the location.

This is a gem of a play that makes a number of points in an intelligent and thoroughly entertaining manner and deserves a life that isn't cut short by a run that only lasts a week.

The Glimmering Nymph runs at Oran Mor until Saturday 17th October
Image by Leslie Black used with permission