Crocodile Rock

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

four stars

A Play, a Pie and a Pint is still in the mood to celebrate 500 productions since its inception, so some previous successes are in the autumn roster alongside new scripts. It’s one of these, Crocodile Rock, that kickstarts the season.

The Crocodile Rock in question is the brightly painted landmark that’s popular with tourists visiting the town of Millport on Cumbrae. For Steven – aged 17, in 1997 – there’s not much else that’s eye-catching, or attractive, on his personal horizons: he’s bored, and unsure of who he really is.

He already knows he doesn’t fit in – not with any of his classmates, nor with the locals who drink in his dad’s pub. Inheriting that business – or indeed his mum’s B&B – gives him the full-on heebies. Is there to be no escape for a shy, warm-hearted lad who craves a feel-good niche he can call his own?

As soon as Darren Brownlie arrives on-stage as Steven,and announces that this is going to be HIS story, we’re totally onside with him. It’s Brownlie’s affable twinkle, the little nod towards camperie that charms us so. That nod will acquire a wink, a shimmy and a diva-tastic flamboyance as the piece progresses.

This is all to the good because writer/composer and directorAndy McGregor’s one-man musical about coming of age, coming out and coming into your own skin, has dips in its own energies – and Brownlie’s ability to play a variety of distinctive characters (male and female) while singing and going into a sassy strut, counterpoints a short-fall in melodic ‘big’ moments. For Steven, the life-changing encounter is with a larger-than-life drag queen.

The dialogue between them – Brownlie switching superbly between voices and personalities – is the ‘open sesame’ that unlocks the buttoned-up inner Steven. Gavin Whitworth and Gary Cameron are the dab hands as versatile backing musicians in what is a tour-de-force by Brownlie.