JOYCE MCMILLAN on AFTER THE CUTS at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman, 7.11.15
4 stars ****
AS EVER, there have been good plays and less impressive ones, in this year’s Play, Pie And Pint autumn season; but none of them has been, in a quiet qway, quite so weirdly, unsettlingly radical as this latest piece from the pen of playwright and brilliant solo performer Gary McNair. In After The Cuts, he has written a simple two-hander, set thirty years hence in the late 2040’s, for a hard-up middle-aged Glasgow couple called Agnes and Jim. Jim, played with a left-field, self-deprecating brilliance by George Docherty, is our narrator, although most of the 55-minute show consists of dialogue scenes between him and the irrepressible Aggy; and the story he tells is a simple one, of a devoted couple facing the fact that Aggy has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, in an age when the health service as we know it no longer exists.
Yet instead of diverting into political polemic, or dwelling on the experience of working-class Americans right now, McNair’s play takes an extraordinary lunge into drama and fantasy, as Jim – unable to pay for Aggy’s treatment – makes a desperate decision to go for a do-it-yourself option. The idea is wildly theatrical, tragic and comic, and not every aspect of it works, as the audience begins to laugh hysterically. But with both Docherty and the wonderful Maureen Carr delivering pitch-perfect performances, this is a play that engraves itsef on the memory; preposterous, extreme, yet immensely moving, and – to our horror – strangely credible, too.
Final performance today.