Number One Fan

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

two stars

LET’S hear it for Jan. She’s on the cusp of 50, and sweatily beset by the menopause. Husband Andy is heading off with a nubile twentysomething trainee from his office. Even the cat has checked out – as in permanently – and Jan’s mirror cruelly reflects her age, if not the person who still lurks under the crepey skin.

So let's extend some sympathy for Jan, in her quagmire of women’s troubles. Why not, eh? Because Kim Millar’s three-hander prefers to turn Jan’s mid-life crises into a clumsy comedy about gender stereotypes, male chauvinism and society’s dismissive attitude to older women.

You might think that if Jan (Joyce Falconer) was reading the boorish opinions of columnist Jack Bonham – he of the raffish cravat and penchant for ‘firm young flesh’ – then she might have come across Jane Fonda, Helen Mirren and their affirmative-elders ilk, and maybe even read about HRT. But where’s the second-rate humour in any of that?

No, let’s instead have Jan ensnare Jack (Callum Cuthbertson), shackle him to her basement radiator and humiliate him into writing a retraction. Jack, however, is putting on the laddish swagger because journalism is a young man’s game and he, like Jan, feels old age nipping at his self image.

Satire and farce have long been useful weapons against prejudice, bigotry and ignorance but Millar’s feeble, misfiring material feels like yesterday’s tired mince reheated. Ho-hum.

To the rescue – the cast of three, who give weary punch-lines an adrenalin boost with well-timed delivery and some archly hilarious facial expressions. Joyce Falconer goes her full-on comedic dinger as Jan, the vengeful lady in red: she is over the top and flying – well done, that woman. Cuthbertson is similarly valiant, hinting at the loneliness in Jack’s long-distance philandering while David McGowan (Andy) hits a believable note of self-justification as the wayward husband who fails to understand that older women have a lot to offer.