JOYCE MCMILLAN on SAINT ONE at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 15.10.13.
3 stars ***
THE EXCITEMENT is immense, as crowds gather for this week’s Play, Pie And Pint lunchtime show. The play is directed by comedy legend Andy Gray, and features Glasgow superstar Elaine C. Smith; and the writer is Lesley Hart, a favourite Oran Mor actress now trying her hand at playwriting.
When it comes to the play though, it’s difficult to know where to start, in disentangling its vivid but over-crowded layers of fluorescent post-modern comedy. The scene is a fish-and-chip-shop in Stonehaven, famous for inventing the deep-fried Mars Bar; the problem is that it has been swept away by a tsunami, and is now floating in thick North Sea mist, while its two passengers – an irritable ex-journalist called Walter (Ewan Donald) , and the seriously dazed Geraldine, played with great skill and humour by Elaine C. Smith – struggle to sustain any conversation at all, thanks to Geraldine’s rapid alternations between a doting conviction that Walter is really her late daughter Anne, and a strong belief that she herself is, in fact, Billy Connolly, the favourite entertainer of the family she has lost.
The play’s structural problem is that this opening phase of mutual non-comprehension continues for far too long, with poor Geraldine emoting through a veil of brown sauce splattered allo over her face; audience members without a detailed knowledge of the works of Billy Connolly are at a serious disadvantage. Things improve substantially, though, about 30 minutes in, when a sprightly Helen Mackay emerges from a cupboard as dynamic teenage chip shop assistant Kelly. A kind of junior goddess of Stonehaven wit and wisdom, she has a life to get back to, in the town whose first five letters say “St One”; and she’s just about equal to the task of persuading Walter and Geraldine that they also have reasons to pick up a giant fish-slice, and start paddling for home.