Theatre: Love and Death in Govan and Hyndland

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan, four stars

THE early queue at the box-office suggests that many who aren’t season ticket holders have caught sight of who’s written this week’s play: Ian Pattison, progenitor of television’s Rab C Nesbitt - so hopes are high for tranches of belly laughs along with the lunchtime pie and pint.

Mere seconds into this one-man monologue and Stephen Clyde has scored the first chortles of the day, banging his head off the table and cursing, in full-on character as the middle-aged Ivan, sitting at a laptop with a serious case of writer’s block. The reason his creative flow is on hold? It’s the tenth anniversary of his mother’s death but he can’t quite move on because she’s still with him: there’s an ornamental urn on the desk with her ashes in it, but it’s inside his head that his old ma, Katie, is still alive. Filling his thoughts with memories, and reminding him of the unanswered questions he still ponders, about why he can’t commit to relationships.

This is the deeply personal story Ivan wants to write but can’t. He decides to tell it to us instead, with a dry, wry humour that Pattison seeds brilliantly into what becomes a touchingly bitter-sweet narrative. Clyde is soon doing all the additional voices: the doctors who deliver Katie’s death-knell diagnosis, the nice caring hospice woman, but especially Ivan’s unseen mother herself - and the words fill vividly with the Govan accents of a wee wumman who’s had it hard but has stayed valiant. As death descends, this one-act - directed with care and understanding by Alison Peebles - brings loss centre-stage in a speech that witnesses the passing moment with a perceptive dignity. Prepare for laughter, but probably through tears.