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The Tobacco Merchant’s Lawyer

Oran Mor, Glasgow
3 stars
As any unreconstructed Marxist knows, the crisis of capitalism is hardly a new thing, and a city’s prosperity invariably ebbs and flows between neighbourhoods. Just look at Enoch Dalmellington, the eponymous legal eagle holding court in Iain Heggie’s 1780-set one-man dissection of fair exchange. On his uppers in his four floor Virginia Street des-res, the future may not be so bright if he can’t get his dour daughter Euphemia married off, ditch his debts and get himself solvent again.

First seen as part of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint seasons of lunchtime theatre in April, with John Bett as Enoch, this is a piece of surprisingly serious fun compared to Heggie’s usual scatological excesses. The geographical location of the transfer from Hillhead to Argyle Street, meanwhile, is as significant as it was last time round. The play’s central conceit, after all, sees Enoch gazing through a crystal ball where visions of Glasgow futures reside. The west end has yet to be built, let alone become a literary/media village, and Enoch has a pew in the Trongate kirk itself, scoffing at the very notion it may one day house a theatre.

With Benny Young taking over the role, Enoch is transformed into a dry, Ivor Cutleresque figure with shades of I.M. Jolly filtering through (though not, mercifully, as played by the First Minister on Children In Need night). Liz Carruthers production for her Retrograde company is aided by Martha Hoffman and Gordon Bavaird’s pop-up book set which allows Enoch to slink on and off with a weasily Scrooge-like gait. As pipe-dreams go, this is a hoot.

The Herald, November 16th 2008

ends

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