This week Oran Mor’s regular lunchtime theatre presentations A Play, A Pie and A Pint puts on its 200th production which will be 40 two minute plays by playwrights such as Liz Lochhead, Alasdair Gray, Gregory Burke, Douglas Maxwell and Dave Anderson. There is a theme for the writers to work with, ‘Glasgow Then and Now’, which is slight enough to ensure that audiencess will see the widest possible range of drama, time allowing.
Play 199 was Good With People, a two hander by David Harrower which starred TV’s Blythe Duff and Andrew Scott-Ramsay and was a great example of what A Play, A Pie and A Pint does so well. Two actors, given a superb script to work with, related a story that was personal, moving, funny and poignant. Due to the necessarily basic nature of the setting the focus of the plays is on the writing, and it has to be good in such circumstances as there is no where to hide. The demanding nature of A Play… is one of the reasons so many major writers choose to take part, (although there are plenty of new voices to hear as well) and they are often supported by some of the best acting talent around, both from stage and screen.
It is such a simple premise but it survives due to that quality. In less then an hour some of Scotland’s best playwrights get to tell their audiences stories that are dramatic, involving and are over by the time you have to go back to work. You can’t ask for much more than that on a wet Wednesday lunchtime.
These plays are always worth seeing if you are able. Even if you think that theatre is not your cup of tea, you are only there for 50 odd mins, get a wee drink and a feed, and you may just see something that will change your mind. I think that even bad theatre throws up something interesting, but the standard of everyone involved at Oran Mor means that you’re unlikely, and would be unlucky, to be able to test that theory.
This institution is exactly the sort of thing those of us who feel passion for the arts should support. If you are old enough to remember what happened to independent theatre, and the arts in general, in this country the last time there was a Conservative government then you understand the importance of such ventures. Here’s artistic director David MacLennan giving a brief history of A Play, A Pie and A Pint:
There is a pact between Oran Mor and the audience; if we put on quality theatre you must come. So far that pact remains unbroken and both sides must ensure that it remains that way.