Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"200th Play (Glasgow:Then & Now)" - October 2010

The simple fact that Oran Mor’s “A Play, A Pie and A Pint” series of lunchtime theatre has reached the milestone of 200 plays shows just how much it has been taken to the heart of Glasgow theatre lovers. And that this “200th Play” based on the theme of “Glasgow: Then & Now” incorporates short playlets from 33 different writers, with 9 directors and a cast of 30, shows similarly how much of an institution it has become within the Scottish theatrical community.

While there’s always the tendency to describe the wider Play, Pie, Pint concept as capable of being a bit ‘hit and miss’ there have been substantially more hits than misses over the years (and even the misses were likely hits for large parts of the audience). But in the 20 or so plays I saw last Wednesday there definitely seemed (to my taste at least) to be considerably more misses than hits. Perhaps our day got the short straw in the selection of plays performed (from the total of 33). Peter McDougal's “Language, Please” was one of many that just didn't work for me, and although many in the audience lapped it up, I found Andy Gray’s “Send in the Pies” (in the style of Judi Dench) excrutiating. And disappointingly some of the more entertaining segments such as Alan Bissett's “Wasp in a Wineglass” and Oliver Emanuel’s “Terra Incognita” could have been set just about anywhere. Most revealingly, there are a number of the plays listed in the programme that I know I did see, but have absolutely no recollection of them whatsoever. However, there were a couple of powerful and relevant pieces in the form of Maclennan’s own “Akuba” - the tale of a plantation 'worker', and Iain Robertson’s “SS Daphne”about a Glasgow tragedy I was unfamiliar with.

It’s difficult not to make unfavourable comparisons with “1 Million Tiny Plays About Britain” at the Citz back in June which hit the mark with just about every scene. And even although she didn’t actually see the show herself, Waldorf perceptively observed that it sounded more about The Event than The Content. While there is no doubt it provided a fitting tribute to David MacLennan’s achievements over the last six years – there’s no point in trying to pretend this was a showcase of “A Play, A Pie & A Pint” at its finest.

200th Play has completed its run at Oran Mor
Image by Leslie Black used with permission.