JOYCE MCMILLAN on NEW VOICES at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 30.11.11.
4 stars ****
FOR ITS FINAL pre-panto show of the autumn season, the lunchtime Play, Pie And Pint series offers not one play but five, each lasting a bite-sized ten minutes. The writers are all recent graduates of Glasgow University, Glasgow Caledonian, and the University of the West of Scotland; but as if to prove that new voices are not exclusive to the under-25’s, the first play belongs to Stewart Ennis, a veteran of children’s and young people’s theatre all over Scotland. His exquisite short play A Straight Line – beautifully performed by Morag Stark and Garry Collins – imagines a telling conversation between a Richard-Long-type landscape artist, and a local woman he meets beside a boulder on a wild hillside, one one of his linear walks across Britain.
Victoria Bianchi’s monologue Lipstick, Powder And Paint is a short, angry, brilliant meditation on the culture of acute dissatisfaction with their own appearance that pervades the lives of young women now; and it provides a fine showcase for the talents of the third actor in the team, Jennifer Hainey. The third play, David Cosgrove’s Dreams Of Fiji, is the clear comic frontrunner of the five, a brilliant dialogue – funny, touching, sharply-observed – between a couple living in Paisley, who have just heard that in nine minutes time, Scotland’s biggest town is to be the epicentre of a cataclysmic meteor strike that may wipe out life on earth.
Morag Stark is in fine form in Just Short Of Sparkling, a poignant monologue by Caeley Elcock about a cleaning-obsessed bereaved mother, and the fantasy-world in which she lives; and the show ends with a flourish, in Emily Aitchison’s fine fragment Godfather, about a woman who – with the help of sinister fantasy friend brilliantly played by Collins – finds that everyone who annoys her mysteriously ends up dead. There’s no overarching theme here, and just a touch of politics, mainly of the gender kind. Yet the quality of the writing, editing and acting is truly impressive; and directors David MacLennan and Paddy Cunneen deserve congratulation, along with everyone else involved, for moulding five very different plays into such a shapely hour of theatre, sparkling with energy and potential.