Last night I went to a double bill at the Harbour Arts Centre in Irvine. The publicity blurb for the two plays read as follows:
A double bill of two critically acclaimed comedies from Scotland’s premier touring company, described in the national press as brilliant, gifted and fiercely accessible.
MARY MASSACRE A bitter sweet, emotional rollercoaster of a story about two disappointed women waiting at the candy floss machine on Irvine Moor. On the surface, there are stories of the women who share a light hearted secret and a love of psychics. Underneath, a tale of deceit, loss and betrayal. Both of them are unaware how they’ll change each others lives for ever.
SEVEN YEAR ITCH This true story of the brutal slaying of an office worker in America is interwoven with the delightfully flamboyant tales of two Glasgow co-workers, one of whom is obsessed with Dolly Parton.
Seven Year Itch is for the day dreamer who looks at the stapler with murderous intentions, for anyone who thinks about shredding their co-workers fingers and for those of you who sing out loud and proud at your desk.
Random Accomplices have been touring with Marymassacre since 2008 and it had returned to the HAC with another two-hander written by the same writer Johnny McKnight. It had originally been specially commissioned for the HAC and the set would have been instantly recognisable to an Irvine crowd with monochrome houses in the background evoking the Glasgow Vennel style of an ancient Irvine Street. Two women who do not know one another meet at the shows in a fortune teller tent on Irvine Moor. Their tenuous link is that the woman telling the fortune is the functioning alcoholic wife of the man Gavin that the younger woman is about to meet for a first date after chatting for days on an internet dating site. The younger woman knows that Gavin is married but “His wife doesn’t understand him.” The wife has found out about the date as she can hack into her husband’s password protected online profile. The dialogue is by turns hilarious and tragic and the tiny HAC set was used to its best effect with a hamper on the slightly raised stage containing every prop required to tell the story from candy floss to laptop.
The intimacy of the HAC worked well for this piece and at the sad parts it is hard to stop your eyes welling up in empathy for the wife’s tragedy as she delivers her searing lines. Another benefit of the HAC is that the cast drink in the same bar afterwards and are perfectly happy to chat to the audience which is something you don’t generally get with larger theatres.
Seven Year Itch was however a completely different kettle of fish. It took a true story of the slaying of an American Catholic Polish/English translator at a Chicago funeral home by a gay teenage fellow employee and attempted to transfer that to a Glasgow office and turn it into a comedy. The actors had three personas on stage, “themselves”, their Glasgow counterparts and the American characters. They frequently became themselves to explain why they were doing something or what they had changed to retell the story in a comedic fashion. In some ways it was too clever for its own good. In saying that however it was well acted, told the stories well and had some good lines. The clumsy stepping in and out of character unfortunately meant that our disbelief was never completely suspended.
A 2-for-1 Double Nugget however was a bargain night out and I would recommend that you go to the touring version once it gets to your town.