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Review: theatre

Auntie Agatha Comes to Tea

Auntie Agatha Comes to Tea

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

Not so much a play, a pie and a pint as a couthy comedy caper served up with doric banter and a plot brewed out of Agatha Christie by way of Arsenic and Old Lace. It's an Oran Mor co-production with Aberdeen Performing Arts - at the Lemon Tree next week, where local audiences will hopefully be as amused as their Glasgow counterparts by writer George Milne's running gags about the natives being stingy, and crooks to boot.

So, is there honour among thieves? Not a jot when brothers-in-crime Martin (Jimmy Chisholm) and Damien (Andrew Byatt) decide to bump off elderly Auntie Agatha in order to inherit her considerable profits from the family business - an empire embracing vice, horse-doping and ringing stolen cars. As the title says, the old biddy comes to tea, whereupon the storyline predictably turns the tables on the middle-aged Martin and Damien with Auntie Agatha (Kay Gallie) not just wily, but briskly unsentimental with it.

From the moment Kenneth McKellar's voice sings the praises of "my ain folk", this production (directed by John Bett) goes into gleeful overdrive in its evocation of old-fashioned whimsical entertainment - thanks to barn-storming performances, full of the double-takes and heightened exasperation that the merry trading of insults, slips of the tongue and moments of comic ineptitude thrive on. Ah, oor ain folk right enough. By the way, it was the tea and cake that dunnit - but you always knew sugar was bad for you, yes?

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