A Play, a Pie and a Pint, Oran Mor, Glasgow
THEY discovered Elvis, they discovered sex, they discovered material wealth. Now the baby boomers are discovering death. The results can be maudlin and introspective – but not in the case of Astonishing Archie. Not only is Bill Paterson's three-hander perfectly pitched at a sell-out audience, but it is witty, self-aware and quietly observant about the way death makes us reflect on life.
Paterson plays with a contradiction. On the one hand, two men fighting over their favourite records is comically pathetic. The funeral gives their bickering a greater intensity, but their argument is essentially trivial. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter whether Archie goes out with Hound Dog or My Way. On the other hand, though, those records can have a profound presence on people's lives.
The tone of the play is light and funny, but in between the gags, Paterson deftly describes how Ronnie's generation embraced the easy-listening romance of the rat pack, while Allan's generation hungered for the raw energy of rock'n'roll. In this sense, those songs are not trivial at all – at the point of death and reflection, they define a whole life.
Sharon Small presides over the fraternal dispute as a leather-jacketed Church of Scotland minister, and director Marilyn Imrie uses a thrust stage to bring the action into the audience, giving the production extra body and the breezy comedy extra weight.
© Mark Fisher, 2012 (pic: Leslie Black)
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