JOYCE MCMILLAN on TO HELL AND BACK at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman, 19.9.15.
3 stars ***
THEY’VE BEEN working together for several years, the group of 14 mainly young writers and performers who come together, twice a year, to produce one ot the Play, Pie And Pint season’s hot-off-the-press political cabarets; and now they’ve christened themselves the DM Collective, in honour of their founder and presiding genius, the late David MacLennan.
It’s difficult, though – despite the range of talent involved in the writing – not to sense the absence of MacLennan somewhere in a show like To Hell And Back, a witty but slightly apologetic modern Glasgow take on Dante’s Inferno, in which our hero’s midlife crisis takes the form of exhaustion and depression after decades of fruitless campaigning against the evils of capitalism. in no time at all, our hero Dan Tay (geddit?), played by the ever-suave Dave Anderson, is being led by his wise young guide (the excellent Kirstin McLean) down through various circles of a modern Tory hell, where greed, lust and purgatorial squalor hold sway, with songs and bon mots to match.
The final message – well delivered – is that heaven is other people; the kind of ordinary conviviality to be found in Oran Mor of a lunchtime, and the chance to carry on working and fighting for what we think is worth defending. And if the satire is less sharp and hilarious than it might once have been, the heart of the show remains absolutely in the right place, as it waits for a new theatrical polemicist who can roll out these ideas not only with feeling, but with a truly incisive cutting edge.
Oran Mor, Glasgow, final performance today.