Auntie Agatha Comes To Tea

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JOYCE MCMILLAN on AUNTIE AGATHA COMES TO TEA at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 22.3.14. ________________________________________________________

2 stars **

IT’S JUST ABOUT possible to imagine an entertaining 15-minute sketch based on the idea of a Sopranos-style family of gangsters based in Aberdeen, who are trying to bump off their old Auntie in order to grab her inheritance, and save the failing family business. George Milne’s new lunchtime show for the current Play, Pie and Pint season makes it pretty clear, though, that it takes more than that single thought to flesh out a play, even a short one; and the result is an Oran Mor lunchtime of rare tedium, full of laboured comedy that depends for its effect on our acceptance of a whole range of stereotypes about crime, old ladies, and Aberdeen itself.

John Bett’s production features an impressive cast, with Jimmy Chisholm and Andy Byatt as the middle-aged brothers locked in conflict over whether topping Auntie Agatha is a reasonable move, and Kay Gallie as Agatha, who of course turns out to be sharper than both of her nephews put together; Chisholm, in particular, conveys a memorable combination of dainty domestic fussiness, and ruthless criminal intent. Once the audience has got that single joke, though, there’s little else to amuse us, over a long 45 minutes; apart from the odd inspired moment of comic business, from a cast who could offer so much more, given better raw material.

ENDS ENDS

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