Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Turbo Folk" - April 2010

Alan Bissett's contribution to this season of "A Play, A Pie & A Pint" at Oran Mor is a prime example of that rare theatrical beast - a comedy that makes you think. It's also one of the few pieces of theatre I've seen in recent years that can genuinely lay claim to the overused 'Black Comedy' label.

While on tour in a Balkan-esque state, Scottish pop star Cameron (Ryan Fletcher) decides he wants to get out from his hotel room and meet some real people. His local record company escort (Simon Donaldson) duly obliges and takes him to the kind of bar tourists would avoid.

It's a beautifully simple set up and allows Bissett to make serious points in a manner that avoids any sense of superficiality or trivialisation. His targets include the Scottish belief that the world loves us; our continuing Scottish/British identity struggle; and our lack of knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the turbulent events in the recent past that formed many of the nations on our doorstep.

Bissett's wordplay with the 'local language' is genius - and I'm sure I missed picking out half of it. Fletcher plays Cameron to perfection and displays a musical talent that suggests that in the unlikely event of acting roles drying up he could quite comfortably make a move in that direction. Steven McNicoll as barman Vlad and Donaldson give magnificently steely eyed performances - and are crying out to be cast as the Evil Mastermind and his Chief Henchman respectively in a future Bond movie.

With its well pitched balance of light and dark, and snuggly fitting its 45 minute run time, "Turbo Folk" deserves to be another addition to the list of Oran Mor shows that gain a life beyond their initial run.

Turbo Folk runs at Oran Mor until Saturday 1st May
Image by Leslie Black Photography used with permission