JOYCE MCMILLAN on FRANK’S DEAD at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 1.2.14.
3 stars ***
CONSIDERING THE popularity of budgies as domestic pets, there are surprisingly few dramas that revolve around them; and sadly, that yawning gap in the repertoire is barely remedied by this short comedy from young screenwriter Stewart Thomson, which opens the new Play, Pie And Pint spring season at Oran Mor.
The scene is the kitchen of a humble Glasgow flat, where our sweater-wearing hero Neil has just discovered his budgie, Frank, stone dead in the bottom of his cage. This is more than a private tragedy, though, as 29-year-old Frank had been – so Neil believes – on the brink of setting a global record as the oldest budgerigar in history; the promise of Frank’s achievement has brought Neil a whole new online social life, including a warm virtual friendship with a lady budgie-fancier in The Netherlands.
Enter Neil’s flashy big brother Kev, though, with a different story to tell; and for half an hour or so, the two – played by Iain Robertson and Steven McNicoll – banter their way through a sharply-observed story of brotherly love-hate, stretching over decades. In the end, though, the play starts to repeat itself, like the draft first scene of a new sitcom over-stretched at 35 minutes; and despite the invincible comic flair of two of Scotland’s finest actors, there’s not a great deal Graeme Maley’s production can do about that.