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Lie Down Comic, Oran Mor, Glasgow

Review: What a more throwaway delivery lacks in elegance helps to deconstruct any tendencies to bumptiousness.

Initially, it is odd to hear the old-school dialogue of Rumpole Of The Bailey creator John Mortimer served up in machine-gun Glaswegian in this stage version of his 2004 radio play.

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But in a work concerning a comedian's visit to a bed-bound novelist who is also his No 1 fan, what a more throwaway delivery lacks in elegance actually helps to deconstruct any tendencies to bumptiousness.

Given that Marilyn Imrie, director of this latest coup for A Play, A Pie and A Pint's season of lunchtime theatre, also produced the Radio Four version, this is a liberation for all parties.

The play's title refers to the scabrous routines delivered by Jo Strickland, a feisty lady of letters. Cheeky stand-up Nat Mendoza expects to patronise her in the way celebrities do when visiting the sick. Far from being in awe of a man she knows only from CDs and DVDs, however, when faced with her own private show, Jo gives as good as she gets.

Like most performers, Nat expects a round of applause as soon as he enters a room. When it doesn't come, there's much soul-searching with very little punchline in a quixotic dialogue that concerns love and death among the literary and showbiz set who really are each other's fans. The action is punctuated by brief bursts in the spotlight for real-life stand-up Sandy Nelson as Nat, who spars well with Alison Peebles's Jo, for whom just dying onstage is a joke. And there is light relief from Gabriel Quigley's nurse. If the ending is cloying, at least Nat has learned the hard way that everything really is material. As Eddie Waters, the ageing turn in Trevor Griffiths's 1975 play Comedians says: "Comedy is medicine." But it's pain, too.

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