JOYCE MCMILLAN on THE CAMEO at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman, 5.9.15.
3 stars ***
THE LIGHTS GO UP, and on stage, at the bar of what looks like a pub, sits a well-fed chap in his forties wearing a smart lounge-suit jacket, and a pair of union jack underpants. He is soon joined by a harassed-looking woman called Kate, superbly played by Molly Innes, an assistant director on a notoriously dreadful Scottish soap called Gallus Palace. And it quickly becomes clear that our hero, John Dumfries – portrayed with wicked accuracy by Steven McNicoll – is a recently-rejected unionist MP, now calling in a favour from the old friend who runs the television company, in the shape of a chance to play a cameo role in the show, and thereby start to rebuild his political career.
So far, so good, in the brilliant set-up for this autumn’s first play of the season at A Play, A Pie And A Pint; and for half an hour or so, like the best kind of television comedy writing team, co-playwrights Kieran Lynn and DC Jackson keep the sharp comic dialogue coming thick and fast, as Kate – who turns out to be a bit of a poet in the field of bitter media cynicism – tries to deal with the creative chaos caused by the unseemly effort to shoehorn John’s scene into a normal soap episode, featuring big-hearted barmaid Angela, as played by Jane McCarry.
In the end, there’s just not enough of a play here to fill out even the 50 minutes of an Oran Mor lunchtime; the scene is no more than a sketch, and barely sustains its 40-minute length. As a blast of short-form satire against Scotland’s recently-rejected political class, though, The Cameo has plenty to recommend it; and if you want to be represented again by the kind of New Labour politician who literally can’t order a pint without caling his political adviser, then perhaps John Dumfries – or someone very like him – is the candidate for you.
Oran Mor, Glasgow, final performance today.