Fly Me To The Moon

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

three stars

This two-hander, by Marie Jones was first seen at Oran Mor in the autumn of 2010, one of five Play, Pie and a Pint offerings that were produced (and subsequently toured) in association with Paines Plough. A lot of black comedy has passed over the Oran Mor stage since then, and frankly – despite full-on performances by Sandra McNeeley (Loretta) and Julie Austin (Francis) – Fly Me To The Moon doesn’t soar quite as thought-provokingly high or humorously as many of those works, or indeed Jones’s other plays.

Anyhow – meet Loretta and Francis, a couple of community care workers who tend to the needs of elderly, housebound invalids like 84-year-old Davey. “Wiping piss and shit up for £6 an hour” is how they describe it, and yet they (mostly) manage to stay resilient and even upbeat about their low-paid lot – until family circumstances bring home how poverty limits personal choices and options for their children. So when Davey unexpectedly dies – his uncollected pension just an ATM away – would it be such a crime to cash in on that £80?

And when,for once, Davey’s regular bet is a winner, why can’t Loretta and Francis – rather than the bookie – pocket the £500?

McNeeley and Austin swither at a lively lick throughout Jones’s ‘good cop/bad cop’ exchanges, where issues of morality – wouldn’t it be fraud? – collide with increasingly off-the-wall strategies on how to cover their tracks. That they don’t quite succeed is hinted at from occasional courtroom flashbacks.

Both performers, along with director Sarah McCardie, pursue the laughs with conviction but Jones’s play has an astutely bleak side. Davey was isolated and lonely: a newspaper, modest bets and tapes of Frank Sinatra his only diversions, beyond the rigidly-timed visits by care workers who are little more than hard-pressed drudges. Whatever trials Loretta and Francis face, society itself is implicated in their guilt…