JOYCE MCMILLAN on BUTTERFLY at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 31.1.15. ________________________________________________________
3 stars ***
SEE THIS NEW PLAY by brand-new writer Anne Hogg, and see every known cliche of west of Scotland working-class drama energetically recycled onto the small lunchtime stage at Oran Mor. In this first play of new Play, Pie And Pint spring season, there’s the factory on the brink of closure, occupied by an increasingly despairing workforce of amateur philosophers. There are the two men – uncle and son – who can only communicate through a code of insult and banter that conceals immense affection. There’s the unplanned pregnancy, the crisis, the threat of a suicidal leap from a high place; there’s even the story of ordinary men living out lives of quiet desperation with women they don’t like, and of family secrets, the “uncle” who turns out – maybe – to be your Dad.
Yet if all of this seems familiar and even predictable – so much so that the play ends up repeating itself a little, over a slightly long-drawn-out 50 minutes – there’s an edge of energy, humanity and humour in the writing that holds the attention; particularly when the two characters – young, troubled Jamie, and his kindly uncle Davie – fall into the hands of two actors who lavish just the right kind of affection on them, and bring them to life with passion and skill. Perched on top of a swaying water-tower somewhere in Lanarkshire – where young Jamie is not really contemplating suicide, but only trying to sort out his life – the two gaze towards the lights of Glasgow, Davie gradually wheedles Jamie’s story out of him, and a kind of decision is made. Paul James Corrigan and Frank Gallagher turn in two beautifully-pitched performances, in Stasi Schaeffer’s production; and the whole show emerges as a reminder that if cliches are hard to lay to rest, it’s often because they still contain a powerful grain of truth.
Oran Mor, Glasgow, final performance today.