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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Monday, October 04, 2010

Good With People, theatre review

Published in The Guardian

Good with People

Oran Mór, Glasgow
4 out of 5

Say what you like about David Harrower, but the author of Knives in Hens is not known for big laughs. Yet, here in the 199th lunchtime show produced by A Play, a Pie and a Pint (this time with Paines Plough), he uses his talent for high-precision dialogue to very funny effect. He also continues to explore the way the past haunts the present, as he did in Blackbird, and introduces a theme that recalls the political tension at the heart of Elvis Costello's Shipbuilding.

In George Perrin's razor-sharp production, Blythe Duff is brilliantly deadpan as a Helensburgh hotel landlady, hilariously hidebound by petty regulations. She maintains a professional front until she realises the guest now checking in is Evan Bold, the boy who bullied her son at school.

As the guilty party, Andrew Scott-Ramsay points out that his victim's name, Jack Hughes, sounds awfully like Zola's "J'accuse". Evan is not as innocent as Alfred Dreyfus, the court-martialled soldier championed by the French novelist, but, as one of the "Faslane kids" brought into the area because of his father's job on the nearby nuclear naval base, he had cause to resent the locals' frosty reception.

Covering considerable ground in 50 minutes, Harrower moves deftly from linguistic games to social commentary, and a touching study of two characters learning to free themselves from their past. It's a tremendous piece of work.

Also doing a five-city tour and also well worth seeing are Fly Me to the Moon by Marie Jones, a crime caper about two care workers, which has the throwaway charm of an Ealing comedy, and In the Pipeline by Gary Owen, which adopts the interlinking monologue format pioneered by Brian Friel to observe the impact of global economics on a Milford Haven community.

© Mark Fisher 2010

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