Lessons in Love

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

two stars

When it looks as if Jackie is slip-sliding back into the arms of Hammy – the fiancé who bolted to Brazil twenty years ago – Sarah reckons her best friend hasn’t learnt any lessons about love.

Forget passing Higher Romance, Jackie hasn’t even acquired an O-Grade in the basics of relationships – what they should add up to, not least in terms of mutual trust and respect.

There surely are questions to be asked here: has Hammy (Garry Sweeney) changed his cavalier ways? Will anything fast-track the smitten Jackie (Clare Hemphill) towards a reality check? Will Sarah (Kate Donnelly) succeed in preserving their friendship as the home truths hit the fan? And – ummm – do we really care about any of this?

Hemphill and Donnelly have already established themselves as a comedy duo, writing and performing on-stage and on radio. This Oran Mor one act, directed by Sarah McCardie, benefits from their rapport as sparring partners, but even as the rapid patter ping-pongs back and forth it’s hard to read any convincing depth in the characters themselves.

As for Hammy? Well, Sweeney makes it clear from his first, cringingly flash, appearance that the man’s a shameless sham – we can see that, but Jackie can’t, or won’t. While Sarah has married, and has children, Jackie is still single and waiting for Mr Second Best.

Hammy’s arrival kicks Jackie’s common-sense into touch, and plans for opening her own business soon go AWOL like her savings. Hammy’s Brazilian experiences would have flagged up warning signs about his financial failings, had he been honest with family and friends – so should the better-informed Sarah have brought Jackie up to speed?

Perhaps not, given that serious confrontations are avoided in favour of yet more jokey stuff about middle-aged (menopausal) women turning to Qigong and gin to fend off fears of slip-sliding into an unlovely and unloved old age. Really? Hmmm…