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Paring Off

Oran Mor, Glasgow
Four stars

Putting your foot in it pays dividends in Alma Cullen’s new play, her latest for Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint lunchtime initiative. Cullen’s merry dance of a plot sweeps through a post-war era where rock and roll is about to take hold in a world where dressed up glamour is de rigeur.

Things open, however, in the unreconstructed world of the football boardroom. Here, Steven Duffy’s wide-boy manager Kenny is working out his next move with Tom McGovern’s seemingly buttoned-up butcher Murdo. Sponsorship deals may be on the table along with plates of meat, but Kenny is working out the next move with his latest squeeze inbetween wondering which team one of his star strikers is really playing for. Murdo’s feet, meanwhile, are pure murder.

Salvation comes in the form of Mimi, Kenny’s ice-cool fiancé and chiropodist extraordinaire. Not only does she see through Murdo’s size-nine disguise, but she knows Kenny’s a heel, and isn’t going to let him walk over her anymore.

A lovely sense of serious fun pervades throughout Ken Alexander’s deliciously nuanced production, which heightens Cullen’s deadly study of mid twentieth century social and sexual mores in a world where a man’s world was starting to be kicked into touch by those wanting to be on equal footing.

In this sense, shades of Mad Men abound, with Duffy’s Kenny a fly chauvinist shyster doing things on the hoof, oblivious to how the world is changing around him. McGovern’s portrait of Murdo as a respectable local businessman is delivered with an urbane archness that hints at something a lot more intriguing going on. It is Gail Watson’s fabulously poised turn as Mimi that takes the lead here, however, with gallus sass aplenty.

Things are lifted even more by Chris Stuart Wilson’s choreography, which sees all parties punctuate each scene-change with a wiggle and a shimmy. A show-stealing tango points the way in style in a three-way dissection of what used to be called the battle of the sexes that strides towards the future.

The Herald, March 12th 2020



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