Theatre review: Late Sleeper

Vincent Friel, Neil Leiper  and Barbara Rafferty are in sparkling form in Late Sleeper
Vincent Friel, Neil Leiper and Barbara Rafferty are in sparkling form in Late Sleeper
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We’re now two weeks into the autumn lunchtime season at A Play, A Pie, A Pint; and so far we’ve seen two plays about successful middle-class Scotsmen who feel guilty about leaving behind, exploiting and perhaps misrepresenting the working class communities from which they come.

Oran Mor, Glasgow ***

Clearly there’s a bit of semi-autobiographical angst going on among some sections of the Scottish play-writing fraternity, and I’m not entirely sure that the stage at Oran Mor is the best place to work it out.

Whatever its origins, though, Simon Macallum’s latest play Late Sleeper offers a slightly sharper and wittier take on the subject than last week’s more meditative effort. On the sleeper from Euston to Glasgow, successful thriller writer George finds himself sharing a cabin with Goags, a scary-looking character who is carrying some suspicious cargo home in his bag. The repartee between the two is fast and furious, full of sharp observation about the way some Scots see themselves in the year 2017; George is a romantic Scottish nationalist living in leafy Crouch End, Goags a streetwise sceptic about Scotland who divides his time between Catford and Possilpark.

In the end, there are two improbable twists in the tale that slightly break the rhythm of this fast-talking review of contemporary Scottishness. Yet with Vincent Friel and Neil Leiper in sparkling form as George and Goags, and Barbara Rafferty adding layers of irony as a sharp-tongued Cockney sleeper steward, Ken Alexander’s production rattles along to an entertaining conclusion; and morphs swiftly from situation comedy to revenge thriller, with only a little clanking over the points as it changes track.

JOYCE MCMILLAN

Final performance today