Theatre review: From Paisley to Paolo, Oran Mor, Glasgow

GLOBAL pop star Paolo Nutini is a lad fae Paisley; and so are the three characters in Martin McCardie’s 2011 play, now revived at Oran Mor and the Traverse as part of the Play, Pie And Pint 500-show celebration

Saul Davidson, Joshua Hayes and Michael McCardie in From Paisley To Paolo
Saul Davidson, Joshua Hayes and Michael McCardie in From Paisley To Paolo

From Paisley to Paolo, Oran Mor, Glasgow ***

The year is 2006, and young Jack is an adoring Paolo fan who once went to school with the newly-famous star, but whose life is now set on a less glamorous course, through a series of humiliating junk jobs and family bereavements.

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So when he wins three tickets to see Paolo headline a nearby rock festival, he succumbs to the temptation to tell his best friends, Charlie and Mavis, that his mate Paolo sent him the tickets, and has invited them to meet him; cut to the Festival, where in front of a row of pop-up tents, the three start – with tremendous wit and feeling – to deconstruct the various lies and illusions that have become woven into their friendship.

In the end, From Paisley To Paolo is a slightly unambitious play, with little to say except that ordinary people have value even if they are not famous, and that good friends tend to accept us for what we are. Yet within these limits, every detail is beautifully executed; from Martin McCardie’s deeply humane and humorous script, through Stuart David’s gently precise production, to a trio of near-perfect performances from Saul Davidson, Joshua Haynes, and Michael McCardie, who – ironically enough – delivers Jack’s reflective monologues with more than a touch of the star quality young Jack himself is so certain he lacks.


Oran Mor, Glasgow, final performance today; and the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 10-14 September.