WHEN THE Play, Pie and Pint lunchtime season at Oran Mor decides it’s time for a political cabaret, it draws on one of the most venerable traditions in Scottish theatre; through David MacLennan, Play, Pie And Pint’s founder, the line stretches back to the early days of 7:84 Scotland, and beyond.
This time around, though, the Oran Mor team’s decision to stage a cabaret about the deficit – about who defines it, whether it exists, and what should be done about it – seems to provoke a slightly uncertain response, in the both audience and artists.
After a season in which seats have been hard to find at Oran Mor, this show attracts a smaller, quieter crowd; and the show itself seems more like 55-minutes of random thoughts about fiscal lies, political truth, and the hard facts of poverty and inequality, than a cabaret driven from start to finish by a powerful political argument.
Written by a ten-strong team that includes David MacLennan, Dave Anderson, Davey Anderson, Kieran Hurley, Alan Bissett, director Gary McNair, and four of the five cast members, the show has its telling moments, notably the fine Springsteen-inspired satirical song Born In G32, about the fate of those born in Glasgow’s most deprived post-code area.
When it comes to the final song – an edgy anthem about how the Tories are trying to finish what they started in the 1980’s – the tone seems more desperate than upbeat. The need for a struggle is obvious. The question is whether there actually is a struggle, at the moment which the audience could think of joining; and so long as that remains uncertain, the songs of revolution seem hard to write and harder to sing with any relish.