A Play, a Pie and a Pint.The offering at this week's Play, a Pie and a Pint at Oran Mor is a collaboration with the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh (where it'll be next week), "A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity" by Douglas Maxwell. I've already enjoyed "Thank You" featuring Colin McCreadie in the current season (Herald review here) and there are plenty of other tasty looking morsels to come. However it has to be said that in my opinion the current Scotch pies (sponsored by McLays) aren't quite up to the steak pies from before. I like a Scotch pie as much as the next person, and when I'm at Firhill I wouldn't dream of buying a steak pie. Conversely I wouldn't dream of buying a Scotch pie in a chippy but often have a steak pie supper. In my mind when I'm in Oran Mor I feel the old steak pie fits the bill, buy hey-ho things change and I guess it's horses for courses, as it were.
The play starts with the recently widowed Annabelle Love (Joanna Tope, who used to be Dr Clare Scott in Emmerdale) meeting a swearing employee of her husband at his funeral. She becomes intrigued by a man who can swear away casually like her husband used to, and gets him to teach her how to do it. Around this there are a lot of funny lines, but also there is a recognition of the use of language to restrict people, demean them, draw class distinctions. It is also about her grieving and how this man that reminds her of her husband's youthful days helps her. Anyway she has a go at a manifesto of 'down with small talk, up with swearing'. It is good to see someone take the time to think about language this way, because many people (most people?) swear unthinkingly, it is part of expressing yourself yet there is so much faux outrage at misplaced expletives. As James Kelman (a man whose use of working class language seems to wind people up endlessly) said in a recent interview "People can use swear words to emphasise the beauty of something – so it's not really a swear word at all. If you say something is 'fucking beautiful', how can it be swearing, because you're emphasising the beauty of something."
I like to ponder the way that people unconsciously use language to show that they are better than others. At school we had a great English teacher who used to encourage us to use the Glaswegian colloquialisms and grammar in class that we used in the playground (although he drew a line at swearing), yet now we can be upbraided by snotty youths if we unthinkingly use phrases such as "have did" in conversation. Anyway the play is funny and thought provoking, and there is plenty of mileage in this simple premise. There is one part where she is trying to invent her own swear word for the part of the male body that still has a racist term which hasn't gone out of use. One person in the audience guffawed as she worked it out before the actors revealed the answer, a kind of "Eureka" moment as it were.
Glasgow Film FestivalTrundling on until the 24th of February is the Glasgow Film Festival. I haven't really been able to see as much of this as I'd hoped, in particular I was kicking myself that I missed the Sonic Cineplex day at the Arches. Jane Birkin's concert and documentary screening was part of it and a very pleasant way to spend an evening.
I also went to see the latest Studio Ghibli film with my kids, From Up On Poppy Hill. It was beautifully drawn, a million miles away from the usual CGI animation. The story is less bizarre than some other Studio Ghibli films, but does take a few odd turns before landing on safer ground. It is set in a 1960s Japanese High School as they try to save the good things from the past in a Japan determinedly looking to modernise, much like cinema animation I suppose.
My other highlight from the festival was a showing of Highlander on the big screen. If you don't know it, where have you been hiding? In this the French accented Highlander (Christopher Lambert) battles the other immortals, which include an Egyptian called Juan Sanchez Villalobos Ramirez, chief metallurgist to the King of Spain, played by Sean Connery, to win "the prize". Released in 1986 I went to see it in the ABC on Sauchiehall Street when it was still a cinema, with three girls from school, oddly enough, and have watched it repeatedly since on VHS and nowadays on DVD and ITV2. It is unadulterated hokum, but endlessly quotable and you either get it or you don't. Graeme Virtue, who introduced it at the festival, gets it. Two of my friends who un-ironically named their sons Connor after the main character get it. The fact that there were numerous (duff) sequels made, a TV series, manga, cartoons and I believe a remake is in production means that there are plenty of other people who get it. Not everyone gets it, strange as this may seem. I've watched it so many times I can almost recite it word perfectly and can spot all the continuity errors before they happen, so it was fun to have them again up on the big screen. Despite the best efforts of many of the post-pub audience to find laughs at the most anodyne sequences, they still didn't manage to ruin it for me. I felt sorry for the couple sat in front of me who walked out after 15 minutes of the guffawing, but for those who could ignore them they at least kept it to a gentle giggling during bonnie Heather's demise. It's fine to have fun, but a bit bullying to decide this is the way everyone is to have fun.
As Annabelle Love may have said, "Fucking arseholes".
NB - my Highlander fact you mightn't know unless you are as sad as me, Clancy Brown was excellent as the Kurgan, he is just about recognisable as the horrible guard in Shawshank Redemption, but did you know that he is Mr Krabs in Spongebob? Aha!