JOYCE MCMILLAN on BETWEEN THE THINKS BUBBLE AND THE SPEECH BALLOON at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 15.3.14.
4 stars ****
IT’S A SHOW in two parts, this short compilation piece for Play, Pie and Pint by Scotland’s Makar Liz Lochhead and four other writers, including her great colleague and contemporary Tom Leonard. On one hand, there’s the framework, which binds the show together in through series of reflections on the modern creative writing industry, and its possibly baneful influence. It’s impossible not to detect the voice of Lochhead herself in the implied critique of all those “Schools of Creative Studies and Media” that now flourish across the colleges of Scotland; and the framing narrative is delivered with impressive flair and relish by Sandy Nelson, as the aspiring writer, Mark.
Inevitably, though, this element of professional complaint is not quite so interesting as the substance of the lives Mark observes around him at a Glasgow bus-stop, and whose monologues begin to evolve as the show progresses. There’s the talkative, vulnerable guy who has just lost his beloved grandparents, the nice woman care worker, the girl with a torn face whose bloke has just dumped her, the young man frightened of his own sexual impulses. There’s some impressive writing, full of sensitivity and energy; and there are five terrific performances, from a company who must have worked hard indeed, under Liz Lochhead’s direction, to make such a well-shaped and enjoyable show out of this rich but diffuse vision of their city, and our world.
Final performance today.