JOYCE MCMILLAN on DROP IN THE OCEAN at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 29.4.09
3 stars ***
IN 2007, veteran Wildcat star David Anderson won the Best New Musical Award on the Edinburgh Fringe for a remarkable show called Tir Nan Og, first seen in the Oran Mor Play, Pie and Pint season earlier that year. It told the story of a woman poet who left her lover in Glasgow, and set out on an epic sea voyage around our 21st century planet; and now, to celebrate the 150th show in the Play, Pie and Pint series since 2004, Anderson has written some new variations on the idea of that same poet, and her adventures.
The result is a daft but glorious party of an event, staged as an undersea promenade in a bar at the end of the world, where the landlord – Anderson himself – is always calling last orders. There’s a two-piece band, a professional cast of three – featuring Pauline Knowles as the poet, George Drennan as various residents of the deep, and Onur Orkut as the poet’s lost lover – and a big chorus of lushly talented musical theatre students from the RSAMD. There’s also some atmospheric blue-green undersea design and lighting, and good-looking direction and choreography by Andrew Panton.
What’s missing, it has to be said, is any really strong sense of narrative or theme; this is more like a cluster of new and not-particularly-remarkable Anderson songs of the sea, than a true short musical in its own right. But there are some haunting political and historical references, from the wreck of the Iolaire off Stornoway in 1919, to the pollution of the seabed today. Knowles is in stunning form as the poet; and Oran Mor bursts with lunchtime life, as the kids from the RSAMD help celebrate another milestone for one of the most remarkable Scottish theatre initiatives of the past few decades.