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Elf Analysis

Oran Mor, Glasgow
4 stars
Morna Pearson’s professional debut with her 2006 play, Distracted, was a bucket-mouthed breath of whatever passed for fresh air in the trailer park it was set in. Her contribution to A Play, A Pie And A Pint’s ongoing season of lunchtime theatre is equally scabrous, to the point that those used to being soft soaped might well gag over their gravy, so inventively whip-smart are her linguistic extremes.

At first glance, small-town-girl Melissa’s arrival at her new job looks like one more runaway’s jaunty day-in-the-life. Peopled with unreconstructed hangovers from The Wheeltappers And Shunters school of sexual stereotyping but with a glossy lad’s mag makeover, office life looks somewhere between Kafka and an Ann Summers catalogue. Not that far removed, then, from home, where everyone’s “three sexual intercourses of separation” away. With a pill-popping elf living in the stationary cupboard doling out free advice along with inflatable bananas, however, Melissa’s day takes an even more fantastical turn.

Jemima Levick’s punchy little production grabs hold of such material and runs with it for gloriously unfettered life, so edgily do Pearson’s magnificently outrageous verbal riffs teeter on the verge of combusting like some urban 21st century Scots update of Sam Shepard’s early miniatures. At times its surrealist sit-com stylings resemble the sort of picaresque rites of passage romp 1960s swinging London-set cinematic excursions had such anti-establishment fun with.

Kim Gerrard is understatedly sweet as Melissa, Simon Donaldson and Natalie Bennett suitably monstrous as her thrusting co-workers and Ross Allan an impish elf in a largely throwaway piece. The dark undercurrents bubbling beneath the gobby hilarity nevertheless suggest far greater profanity to come.

The Herald, September 18th 2007

ends

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