JOYCE MCMILLAN on MISS SHAMROCK’S WORLD OF GLAMOROUS FLIGHT at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 20.9.14. __________________________________________________________
3 stars ***
ON THE PATIO outside her French window, one bright September morning at the turn of the millennium, Miss Shamrock is watering her plants, and chatting away to an unseen wayward niece, whose side she tends to take in a current dispute with the local school headmistress.
The scene is Ireland, at the height of the economic boom; and although she is now well into her forties, Miss Shamrock is still riding high on the thrill of her job as an air hostess, cherished since she first took to the sky in the 1970’s. Her only problem, on this particular day, is that she can’t get through to her airline’s head office, to confirm details of her next assignment; we sense some undefined storm-cloud approaching.
And this is the core problem with Martin Travers’s otherwise hugely enjoyable monologue, performed with terrific verve and poignancy by the wonderful Pauline Knowles; that the first sentence of this review tells you more than the play itself does, until its final minute, about the precise historic moment in which it is set. It’s a distracting dramatic device that essentially robs us of the full meaning of the shock that is about to end Miss Shamrock’s world of carefree flight. Yet it still creates plenty of space for a brillliant solo performance, full of dazzlingly funny one-liners, and sharp social insights into a generation that saw Ireland evolve from a socially conservative small-town theocracy to one of the most sophisticated and interconnected nations on earth; without losing any of its legendary gift for inspired craic, which Miss Shamrock shares to the maximum.