From Paisley to Paolo

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

three stars

WE first catch sight of 19 year old Jack when he’s at work: he’s inside a bright yellow chicken costume, handing out fliers for Peter’s Poultry. Not quite the career he’d always dreamed about, but another Paisley lad, Paolo Nutini, has already grabbed that headlining spot at T in the Park 2006.

Jack does, however, get to T in the Park. He wins tickets for Paolo’s gig, pretends to his best mates Charlie and Mavis (who is in fact a guy) that they’re a freebie from his long-time chum Paolo and they’ll all meet up afterwards. Lies on this scale usually invite disaster: humiliation at the very least – more likely the cataclysmic end to the friendship that, in various ways, sustains all three lads.

But Martin McCardie’s play – first seen at Oran Mor in April 2011 and again directed by Stuart Davids – has a more thoughtful side to the good-natured joshing and humorous patter that keeps its lunchtime audience happily entertained.

Bit by bit, background information on each character filters into their conversation. Mavis (Joshua Haynes) has had to go into the family business – they’re undertakers. Charlie (Saul Davidson) has been keeping shtum about his sexuality, simply playing along with his friends’ assumptions. As for Jack (Michael McCardie), well he’s still grieving for his Papa, the recently deceased grandfather who shared in so much of his significant childhood and adolescent experiences.

It’s this loss that makes him want to be somebody Papa could be proud of – somebody like Paolo – and which his best mates pick up on too. Even if they can’t quite put their compassion into words, their bonded loyalty means they’re there for him regardless of his wannabe fibs and fantasies. All three performers keep a nice balance between daft comedy, laddish bravado and shrewd reality checks but McCardie’s monologue chats with his late Papa have an achingly rueful sincerity that lingers after Paolo’s voice has faded from the soundscore.