Saturday, 25 March 2017

A Play, A Pie and A Pint. - Jocky Wilson Said.

Jocky Wilson Said. Oran Mor, Glasgow. March 2017

Jocky Wilson Said by Jane Livingstone and Jonathon Cairney. Theatre review.



When Dexy's Midnight Runners appeared on Top of the Pops in 1982 playing their version of the Van Morrison song "Jackie Wilson Said" instead of a picture of soul legend Jackie Wilson, behind them on stage was a large picture of Fife's own world darts champion, Jocky Wilson. This is often cited as a famous television mistake, but the truth is more mundane and it was actually done on purpose as a joke, with Jocky Wilson a very well-kent face at the time. Now he is maybe more well known for that incident than for his darts playing. 

He looked an unlikely sporting champion, which was a big reason that people warmed to him. Short, overweight, toothless, and smoking and drinking between throws, he had the appearance of the archetypal bloke from the pub darts team who goes on to be champion of the world. He did that twice, in 1982 and 1989, in the days before there were two rival darts championships.

Jocky Wilson
This week's play at Oran Mor's A Play, A Pie and A Pint series, twists the Dexy's song title to present a monologue with Grant O'Rourke as Jocky Wilson. It is based on an episode in his life in the days before he was world champion and finds him stranded in the Nevada desert, 180 mile (get it?) from a competition in Las Vegas he should be at. Trying to hitch a lift he chats to "Spike", a roadside cactus and brings out fascinating stories from his early life that were all new to me. With a glass half full attitude he looks back to his early days in an orphanage with his brother, his previous work including days in the Seafield Colliery and his time spent in Kirkcaldy's Lister Bar, where he first took up darts. His arguments with darts officials, temporary ban for punching one of them, and the grief his Argentinian wife Malvina got at the time of the Falklands War also add to his colourful past which I knew nothing about. 

Grant O'Rourke, who acts in TV series Outlander, makes a good Jocky Wilson, and also does decent impersonations of other characters, including a haughty Eric Bristow. Some of the best lines are direct lifts from Jocky Wilson's autobiography, such as
"I can manage just about anything with my gums. I can chew a steak provided it's well done. I can even eat apples. Great Yarmouth rock and nuts are the only things that defeat me"
The play gives you a rounded picture of Scotland's first ever darts world champion, without the later downward arc his life took. A man fondly remembered by many, and in his home town also with a wee display in his honour in Kirkcaldy Galleries

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