A Perfect Stroke

A Perfect Stroke

Oran Mor, Glasgow

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We already know the panto-tastic Johnny McKnight who writes and Dames it to the manner born. And we know the McKnight of the nippy-witty confessional monologue-cum-showbiz extravaganza. There are, in fact, McKnights for all theatre seasons, but this Oran Mor play - directed by Amanda Gaughan and destined for the Traverse next week - is a cracking reminder that McKnight can also do one-acts that pack a dramatic punch as well as sharp'n'saucy punchlines.

Drama teacher Ms Stone is giving some after-hours coaching to 16 year old Tommy, who has an audition looming. Uh-oh. Tommy's chosen speech is Romeo's 'But soft what light...' soliloquy and the helpful Ms Stone will find herself cast as his intended Juliet. Now it's a moot point whose hyperactive hormones are setting the pace here. Is Ms Stone a bit too touchy-feely as she guides the lad through relaxation and warm-up techniques? On the other hand, Tommy seems keen to share sexually-tinged confidences about his girlfriend Carly - a wonderfully brassy vignette from Dani Heron. But with Carly banished from the classroom, and the door slammed shut - total mistake, Ms Stone, in terms of compromising situations - the opening comedy starts to twist into a tense, edgy battle of wills where you're never sure who will gain the upper hand (or where that hand will wander to.)

Anita Vettesse and Scott Reid are both in blistering form as seemingly innocent exchanges become loaded with inappropriate implications and - on his part - really chilling menace. Reid flips with brilliant unpredictability from mood to mood, callow one moment, threatening the next, while Vetesse delivers ambiguity as a default subtext to her every action. Never mind the lunchtime theatre pies - this is a meaty treat.

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