JOYCE MCMILLAN on FLOWER, BIRD, WIND, MOON at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 28.2.15.
3 stars ***
IT’S A STRANGE and lovely thing, this latest short play by theatre and music man Paddy Cunneen; a little too self-consciously sweet to amount to great drama, but strikingly attractive and thought-provoking, all the same. The hero – known simply as Our Man – is an middle-aged Scottish everyman whose world has fallen apart following his wife’s death from cancer; so he takes leave of absence from his teaching job and two grown-up kids, and goes to Japan, to fulfil a lifelong ambition to study Noh theatre.
His time in Japan is a combination of wry self-deprecating tale of an innocent abroad, and wish- fulfilment fantasy involving an affair with a glamorous Japanese lady who carries her own terrible burden of grief. If the narrative arc is predictable, though, Billy Mack and Tomoko Komura turn in a delightful pair of performances. And in the sequences where Our Man grapples with the essence of Noh theatre – while the wonderful Komura plays all three of his instructors or “sensei”, and some traditional masked Noh characters – this gentle play achieves something more; a deep sense of how this ancient art, and others like it, cannot take away the pain of living, but somehow enable us to share it, to make something of it, to live on, and to thrive.
Oran Mor, Glasgow, final performance today.