Sunday 27 May 2012

Play, a Pie and a Pint and Philip Glass

A Play, a Pie and a Pint

It's been a while since I managed to catch one of the lunchtime a Play, a Pie and a Pint shows at Oran Mor at the top of Byres Road, the small matter of work usually being my obstacle. Now that the football season is over though I tried to make an extra effort to grab a pie this week and took in "One Day In Spring", the last in a season of plays they've put on in association with the National Theatre of Scotland inspired by the popular revolts in the Arab world over the past 18 months. It had received rave reviews in The Herald and The Scotsman, a compilation piece of short sketches and ideas by several young Arabic playwrights directed by David Greig. Right from its inception I've liked the variety of stuff on show at a Play, a Pie and a Pint, sometimes its a bit hit or miss, sometimes there's a wee gem or "that guy off the telly" in an intimate venue. The two young actors telling these stories from the Arab world did it with humour, pathos, enthusiasm and energy, despite one of them acting from a wheelchair (which gets to double as a tank) after Seif Abdelfattah broke his ankle in rehearsals. Fellow Egyptian Sara Shaarawi is his partner on stage giving us "18 short lessons in how to run a revolution" and I liked the wee aside that "you'll never get your independence like that" when the Scottish audience gave a quiet and reluctant murmur when asked to participate in their revolt. It is jarring to watch these tales written by and about people involved in the unfolding actions, with vigour and humour and then be faced with gruesome scenes of brutal fighting in Syria in the news a day later.

If you've never tried it, give it a bash next time you are passing through the West End about lunchtime,. They start at 1pm, get in beforehand to pick up your pint (lager, Guinness, glass wine, orange juice, whatever), your pie (or quiche for you veggies, with or without gravy) take a seat and who knows what or who you'll see. Next week it's a play by Ron Butlin whose books Vivaldi and the Number 3 and The Sound of My Voice I've enjoyed. I might try to slope off early from work again next week.
Oran Mor pies don't come with a wee mouse, by the way


Glasgow Royal Concert Hall have been running an ongoing series of concerts loosely under the label of 'Minimal' and this weekend they were marking the 75th birthday of American composer Philip Glass by having the man himself in town to do a variety of performances. The one that I managed to catch was on Friday night where he performed his score to the classic early talkie "Dracula" starring Béla Lugosi. He was on the piano on stage alongside Michael Riesman, on keyboard and conducting and longstanding collaborators, the Kronos Quartet. It is years since I've seen Philip Glass perform, and looking at his recent credits writing film scores seems to have become a large part of it. It was also a treat to see the Kronos Quartet, however it took a wee bit of time for me to adjust my ear to listen to the music. As the film was playing out on the screen above them, the musicians were beavering away below it on stage. The melodrama on screen was absorbing and I guess ultimately, although I had bought a ticket to hear the music, it is written to create and augment the atmosphere of the film. This worked particularly well in the dramatic last 20 minutes. It made me think back to the skill of the musicians in the silent movie days who added their dramatic flourishes to the on screen action, such as my wife's great-auntie Peggy, who did it as her job. Although I met her as an old woman, it is funny to think of her in Philip Glass's place at the piano in the cinemas of Lochgelly instead of a concert hall in Glasgow. Anyway, I enjoyed seeing the film again, enjoyed hearing and seeing the musicians and I think even Philip Glass enjoyed himself as he forced out a smile on his third curtain call. Afterwards I met up with fellow Jags man @NiallKennedy who'd been at the concert too, which was a very civilised way to end the week, before walking through the streets of Glasgow at 11pm, in shirt sleeves, when a week ago I needed gloves and a bunnet. Just in case that is the Scottish summer over already, I've squeezed in 2 barbecues this week already. Perfect!
Great-auntie Peggy

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