JOYCE MCMILLAN on FLAME PROOF at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman, 4.10.14.
3 stars ***
IT IS NIGHT in the wedding marquee, set in the grounds of a fancy country house hotel; and in the gloom, a woman in dungarees and a terrible black wig is working away, doing strange things to the electric wiring. She says she is Anne-Marie, the resident health-and-safety expert, preparing the marquee for tomorrow’s ceremony; but the drunk and troubled brother-of-the-bride Buddy, who has just interrupted her by sleepwalking in minus his trousers, suspects that she is none other than Lyssa, the blushing bridegroom’s rejected ex-girlfriend, now bent on a terrible and fiery revenge.
A couple of years into her blossoming career as a playwright, actor and writer Lesley Hart is emerging as a master of the brilliant dramatic set-up; I’ve rarely seen two fine actors better matched than Michelle Gallacher and Billy Mack, in this Play, Pie and Pint show’s fast-talking opening confrontation. In the end, there’s a little less certainty about how to develop the characters; Buddy evolves satisfyingly from hopeless drunk to interesting, perceptive man in a midlife crisis, Lyssa seems stuck in a mood of angry aggression that barely shifts, even when she rips off her wig to reveal her true identity. Under Andy Gray’s direction, though, this sharp 50-minute comedy moves with a memorable swagger, and impressive flair; although if that’s a hint of a romantic happy ending in the final scene, audiences at Oran Mor today – and the Traverse next week – will have to work hard to believe in it, after such an invigorating torrent of pure pyromaniac rage.