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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me @markffisher and @writeabouttheat I am an Edinburgh-based freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian, Scotland on Sunday and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success, published in February 2012 and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers published in July 2015. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide. See my website for more information and comprehensive Scottish theatre links.
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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Mums and Lovers

© Mark Fisher - published in The Guardian

Mums and Lovers

Oran Mor, Glasgow
3 out of 5

A Play, a Pie and a Pint is the most unlikely success story of Scottish theatre. Run by David MacLennan, a veteran of the 7:84 and Wildcat theatre companies, it has been attracting sizeable lunchtime audiences for the past four years. Indeed, so many people turned up to claim their pie and pint before curtain-up on Monday that the performance was forced to start late.

It isn't only audiences who are keen. The forthcoming 14-play autumn season includes directors such as Paines Plough's Roxana Silbert, writers with the standing of Chewin' the Fat's Ford Kiernan, and actors of the calibre of Gabriel Quigley, Julie Austin and Shonagh Price - the stars of Mums and Lovers. This raucous girls-night-out comedy is written by no less a figure than Ian Pattison, whose best-loved creation, Rab C Nesbitt, will be back on BBC2 for a one-off special later this year.

Part of the appeal is the lack of formality. Writers can try things out in a congenial atmosphere (Pattison has a full-length version of Mums and Lovers ready to roll should this week prove a success), and audiences don't complain if the set amounts to no more than a table and a couple of bar stools, as it does here. Even though Pattison's comedy breaks no new ground, it is bright, brisk and funny, and feels like a lunchtime well spent.

We're in the territory of Women On the Verge of HRT and of Shirley Valentine, as three old school friends gather for their weekly Thursday drink and bemoan the state of their loveless marriages. That they miss sex is understood; what they hunger for most, however, is validation. In the forbidden fruit of a bar-room flirtation, they see something they can't get from their suburban barbecues.

The idea of the frustrated housewife is not new, but few have been represented with as much feistiness as Pattison's tough-talking trio. "He probably uses cake tongs to take a pee," says Austin's Louise, dismissing the pompous husband of Quigley's Elspeth with typically surreal vulgarity.

Pattison can't resist a wisecrack where sometimes a human truth would do better - which might account for the occasional overplaying of the comedic lines - but he excels in scatological one-liners and keeps the audience laughing. If his full-length version finds room for poignancy as well as gags, he could have a hit on his hands.

© Mark Fisher, 2008

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